I have been accused of being hard on this President when it comes to privacy, chained CPI, Larry Summers and intervention in Syria. However I have been a tireless supporter of this President. I have never given up hope on his agenda. That does not mean that as an Independent Progressives I will not speak up when his agenda may hurt the freedom and liberty of Americans. I believe in this man and I know his accomplishments. This “BLACK” President has done more for the American Middle Class in four and a half years than the Republican Party has done in 30:
1. Passed the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare’s)
2. Passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
3. Earned Income Tax Credit. Under current law, working families with two or more children currently qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit equal to 40 percent of the family’s first $12,570 in earned income. The stimulus set the rate at 45 percent for families with three or more children and made other adjustments. The fiscal cliff bill extends these provisions for five additional years, through 2017.
4. Child Tax Credit. The stimulus set a new threshold for refundability of the credit, and the fiscal cliff bill extends that for five years, though 2017
5. Marriage penalty. A “marriage penalty” describes what happens when a couple pays more income tax if they file jointly as a couple than they would if they had remained single and filed as individuals. The fiscal cliff bill permanently extended marriage penalty relief for the standard deduction, the 15 percent bracket, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
6. Dependent Care Credit. The dependent care credit benefits taxpayers who have child care expenses for children under 13 and disabled dependents. Under Bush, the amount of eligible expenses was increased. The fiscal cliff bill makes those changes permanent.
7. Adoption tax credits. Taxpayers who adopt children can receive a tax credit for adoption expenses and can exclude adoption expenses paid by an employer from the calculation of their income. Under Bush, the terms of this credit became more generous, and under Obama’s health care law, these benefits were extended and the credit was made refundable. The fiscal cliff bill extends these provisions permanently.
8. Increase minority access to capital
9. Implement “Women Owned Business” contracting program
10. Create a consumer-friendly credit card rating system
11. Establish a credit card bill of rights
12. Expand loan programs for small businesses
13. Close the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug plan
14. Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions
15. Provided tax credits to Americans who need help to pay health premiums
16. Require large employers to contribute to a national health plan
17. Require health plans to disclose how much of the premium goes to patient care
18. Reinstate executive order to hire an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years
19. Increase the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals
20. Expand Veterans Centers in rural areas
21. Fully fund the Veterans Administration
22. Expand housing vouchers program for homeless veterans
23. Fully fund the Violence Against Women Act
24. Increase funding for national parks and forests
25. Expand Pell grants for low-income students
26. President Obama signs hate crimes bill, Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 President Barack Obama has signed a bill to expand the federal hate crimes law. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after two men who were killed more than 10 years ago because of their sexual orientation, was included in a defense bill that Obama signed on Oct. 28, 2009.
27. Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy
28. Strengthen the levees in New Orleans
29. Toughen enforcement for Internet exploitation of children
30. Send first-time nonviolent drug offenders to rehab if appropriate
31. Create new criminal penalties for mortgage fraud
32. Reduce dependence on foreign oil
33. Reverse restrictions on stem cell research
34. He is bringing home “OUR” Sons and Daughters from Iraq and Afghanistan
35. He brought Osama Bin Ladin to justice for his attacks on 911
Today is the anniversary of the “March on Washington”. As Americans we have been told throughout history that minorities were inferior, that they could not accomplish what White Americans could accomplish. It took over 230 years for a Black man to become the President. To prove that this Black man was not up to the task White Conservatives would not lift a finger to help this man make things better for the American Middle Class. They threw every obstacle at this President, they said “NO” to all of his ideas. They were intransigent and destructive to democracy. They mocked this man, they ridiculed him. They behaved less than Statesmanlike. But this Black President stood proud and he faced this Nation with incredible grace and dignity that no Republicans has exhibited since his election in 2008.
I have never been more proud of “MY” President and never more proud of the Progressives of all Races, Ethnicities, Religions, Sexual Orientation and social classes. On this day I salute the first African American President, Barack Obama. So many Americans have sacrificed throughout our history to make this possible and he has not disappointed that effort. I dare say that no White Males, Progressives or Conservative could have maintained such dignity in the face of the behavior and disrespect showed to him by the right wing of this Country.
But today I have a dream that this will not be the last African American President, that a Woman will be given her chance to lead, that “ALL” Americans will be given the chance to fulfill the “American Ideal”….ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL…
Dear Mr. President,
I understand that the Hawks are beating the drums for war and that some Doves are joining in because of the suffering of the Syrian people. However this is a “civil war” in Syria and civil wars a inherently messy and bloody; the United States Civil War was no exception. Both sides in this war are questionable to the interests of the United States.
Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation’s wars–620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts. It was only as recently as the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died in the American Civil War. If we risk the lives of more American Sons and Daughters can you fully explain why we are doing this, to what end?
Will our intervention really make things better for the Syrian people as the Doves would have us believe? 114,168-125,082 Iraqi’s died in a United States intervention to find WMD’s. So far in August 2013 alone 685 civilians have died in Iraq. Our intervention did not save Iraqi lives and our intervention did not stop the ongoing deaths of Iraqis. The Bush Administration predicted that the conflict would be short and that the Iraqi people would welcome us with open arms. The conflict lasted 10 years and the Iraqi people wanted us out and became allies with Iran.
The war in Afghanistan continues taking and destroying lives, both due to the direct consequences of violence and the war-induced breakdown of public health, security, and infrastructure. In 2004, life expectancy was measured at a mere 42 years; moreover, 25 percent of children did not reach the age of 5. The first half of 2011 saw the most intense fighting since the early part of the war and more lives have been lost as a result of war than when the Taliban was in control. 16,725-19,013 Civilians have died in Afghanistan since the war started. So did we make things better?
Syria is not Kosovo, this is already a violent civil war with a potential to drag us into a horrific conflict that will be labeled the “DEMOCRATS” war, since a Democratic President committed us to this war. Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 election by many accounts because she supported the war in Iraq. This puts her in a difficult situation. If she supports you in this ill-advised endeavor she will be vulnerable to Rand Paul who will undoubtedly stake out an anti-war position. If Hillary does not support you that puts her on the opposite side of many of your die hard supporters. In either case, she is unlikely to win the election if the “Democrats” take us into a full blown military intervention that embroils us into an out of control quagmire.
One of the rebel factions is the Syrian Liberation Front, numbering 37,000 fighters, and the Syrian Islamic Front, numbering 13,000 fighters, operate in Syria’s southeast and northeast respectively. Both of these groups espouse an Islamist ideology, in contrast to the self-declared non-sectarianism of the Free Syrian Army. How many American lives, how much American blood are we willing to spill to help install yet another Islamist regime. What will happen to the Syrian people when the country becomes an Islamist Nation with no guarantees for the minorities? We saw what happened in Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood won a legitimate democratic election, then quickly decided to dismantle democracy and freedoms of the Egyptian people. Will our intervention bring more death to Assad supporters? These are Syrian people also…no less deserving of life.
However the real true moral dilemma lies in Jabhat al-Nusra, to whom thousands of Free Syrian army fighters have apparently defected. Numbering only 5,000 fighters as of January, but now perhaps many more, al-Nusra’s core fighters come from Iraq’s post-war insurgency and have recently pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. We have lost over 6,000 American Troops fighting Al-Qaeda and now we are going to arm them. Al-Qaeda brought down the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon. Are they now our allies? I sincerely doubt that.
“(Reuters) – The Syrian rebel commander who rose to international notoriety for footage of him cutting out and eating the organ of a slain soldier said he was willing to face trial for his actions if President Bashar al-Assad was also sent to court.
A video released on Friday showed the commander in Syria’s central Homs province, known as Abu Sakkar, praying in a field and taking questions from a cameraman.
“I am ready to be held accountable for my actions, on condition that Bashar and his shabbiha (militias) are tried for crimes they committed against our women and children,” he said.
“I send this message to the world: if the bloodshed in Syria does not stop, every Syrian will become Abu Sakkar.”
A video of Abu Sakkar, a founder of the well known Farouq Battalion in Homs, went viral earlier this week. It showed him cutting into the torso of a dead soldier and taking a bite out of one of his organs.”
Who are these rebels that seem to make the hearts of MSNBC and CNN bleed? Their actions seem to be as equally as barbaric; will they be any more “humanitarian” than the Assad regime. Will MSNBC and CNN take responsibility for outcome of these conflicts and the lives lost? Yes it is hard to watch the horror in Syria, but will we make the horror even worse? Can you assure us that that loss of more American lives and more American treasure will procure a better outcome?
As we pass the 50,000 American Troops wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan war we need to really think about what we are committing ourselves too? We cannot afford to be in a perpetual war, we cannot continue to ask the American People to give more treasure when we cannot save Social Security and Medicare, feed our hungry, provide affordable education to our children…we cannot even take care of the wounded warriors coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. War does not seem to solve anything and our intervention is no guarantee that more Syrian Civilians will be saved…quite to the contrary, judging by history more will be lost…
On July 17th I received this reply from my United States Senator Dianne Feinstein to a letter I sent her in regard to my concerns over NSA spying on American Citizens.
Dear Thom :
I received your communication indicating your concerns about the two National Security Agency programs that have been in the news recently. I appreciate that you took the time to write on this important issue and welcome the opportunity to respond.
First, I understand your concerns and want to point out that by law, the government cannot listen to an American’s telephone calls or read their emails without a court warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause. As is described in the attachment to this letter provided by the Executive Branch, the programs that were recently disclosed have to do with information about phone calls – the kind of information that you might find on a telephone bill – in one case, and the internet communications (such as email) of non-Americans outside the United States in the other case. Both programs are subject to checks and balances, and oversight by the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary.
As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I can tell you that I believe the oversight we have conducted is strong and effective and I am doing my level best to get more information declassified. Please know that it is equally frustrating to me, as it is to you, that I cannot provide more detail on the value these programs provide and the strict limitations placed on how this information is used. I take serious my responsibility to make sure intelligence programs are effective, but I work equally hard to ensure that intelligence activities strictly comply with the Constitution and our laws and protect Americans’ privacy rights.
These surveillance programs have proven to be very effective in identifying terrorists, their activities, and those associated with terrorist plots, and in allowing the Intelligence Community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prevent numerous terrorist attacks. More information on this should be forthcoming.
· On June 18, 2003, the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) testified to the House Intelligence Committee that there have been “over 50 potential terrorist events” that these programs helped prevent.
· While the specific uses of these surveillance programs remain largely classified, I have reviewed the classified testimony and reports from the Executive Branch that describe in detail how this surveillance has stopped attacks.
· Two examples where these surveillance programs were used to prevent terrorist attacks were: (1) the attempted bombing of the New York City subway system in September 2009 by Najibullah Zazi and his co-conspirators; and (2) the attempted attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in October 2009 by U.S. citizen David Headley and his associates.
· Regarding the planned bombing of the New York City subway system, the NSA has determined that in early September of 2009, while monitoring the activities of Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, NSA noted contact from an individual in the U.S. that the FBI subsequently identified as Colorado-based Najibullah Zazi . The U.S. Intelligence Community, including the FBI and NSA, worked in concert to determine his relationship with Al Qaeda, as well as identify any foreign or domestic terrorist links. The FBI tracked Zazi as he traveled to New York to meet with co-conspirators, where they were planning to conduct a terrorist attack using hydrogen peroxide bombs placed in backpacks. Zazi and his co-conspirators were subsequently arrested. Zazi eventually pleaded guilty to conspiring to bomb the NYC subway system.
· Regarding terrorist David Headley, he was also involved in the planning and reconnaissance of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India that killed 166 people, including six Americans. According to NSA, in October 2009, Headley, a Chicago businessman and dual U.S. and Pakistani citizen, was arrested by the FBI as he tried to depart from Chicago O’Hare airport on a trip to Europe. Headley was charged with material support to terrorism based on his involvement in the planning and reconnaissance of the hotel attack in Mumbai 2008. At the time of his arrest, Headley and his colleagues were plotting to attack the Danish newspaper that published the unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, at the behest of Al Qaeda.
Not only has Congress been briefed on these programs, but laws passed and enacted since 9/11 specifically authorize them. The surveillance programs are authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which itself was enacted by Congress in 1978 to establish the legal structure to carry out these programs, but also to prevent government abuses, such as surveillance of Americans without approval from the federal courts. The Act authorizes the government to gather communications and other information for foreign intelligence purposes. It also establishes privacy protections, oversight mechanisms (including court review), and other restrictions to protect privacy rights of Americans.
The laws that have established and reauthorized these programs since 9/11 have passed by mostly overwhelming margins. For example, the phone call business record program was reauthorized most recently on May 26, 2011 by a vote of 72-23 in the Senate and 250-153 in the House. The internet communications program was reauthorized most recently on December 30, 2012 by a vote of 73-22 in the Senate and 301-118 in the House.
Attached to this letter is a brief summary of the two intelligence surveillance programs that were recently disclosed in media articles. While I very much regret the disclosure of classified information in a way that will damage our ability to identify and stop terrorist activity, I believe it is important to ensure that the public record now available on these programs is accurate and provided with the proper context.
Again, thank you for contacting me with your concerns and comments. I appreciate knowing your views and hope you continue to inform me of issues that matter to you. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841.
United States Senator
Dear Senator Feinstein…your credibility is on the line, I have never been so disappointed!
NSA, DEA, IRS Lie About Fact That Americans Are Routinely Spied On By Our Government: Time For A Special Prosecutor
By Jennifer Stisa Granick and Christopher Jon Sprigman
It seems that every day brings a new revelation about the scope of the NSA’s heretofore secret warrantless mass surveillance programs. And as we learn more, the picture becomes increasingly alarming. Last week we discovered that the NSA shares information with a division of the Drug Enforcement Administration called the Special Operations Division (SOD). The DEA uses the information in drug investigations. But it also gives NSA data out to other agencies – in particular, the Internal Revenue Service, which, as you might imagine, is always looking for information on tax cheats.
The Obama Administration repeatedly has assured us that the NSA does not collect the private information of ordinary Americans. Those statements simply are not true. We now know that the agency regularly intercepts and inspects Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other communications, and it shares this information with other federal agencies that use it to investigate drug trafficking and tax evasion. Worse, DEA and IRS agents are told to lie to judges and defense attorneys about their use of NSA data, and about the very existence of the SOD, and to make up stories about how these investigations started so that no one will know information is coming from the NSA’s top secret surveillance programs.
“Now, wait a minute,” you might be saying. “How does a foreign intelligence agency which supposedly is looking for terrorists and only targets non-U.S. persons get ahold of information useful in IRS investigations of American tax cheats?” To answer that question, let’s review this week’s revelations.
Back in 2005, several media outlets reported that NSA has direct access to the stream of communications data, carried over fiber optic cables that connect central telephone switching facilities in the U.S. with one another and with networks in foreign countries. Reports suggested that the NSA had installed equipment referred to as “splitter cabinets” at main phone company offices, where they make a copy of all data traveling on the fiber optic cable and route it into a secret room where computers scan through the information – searching for names and terms that are themselves secret — as it goes by. For years, the federal government refused to comment on these reports. But on August 8, an unnamed senior administration official confirmed this practice to the New York Times.
We also learned that the NSA can grab information off these fiber optic cables in near real time using a tool called XKeyscore (XKS). Searching the firehose of Internet and telephone data as it flows takes an immense amount of computing power. The XKS system dumps a portion of the communications information NSA snatches into a truly immense local storage “cache.” This cache can keep network information for a few days, depending on the amount of traffic. This gives the NSA’s computers time to search through what otherwise would be an unmanageable torrent of emails, phone calls, chats, social network posts, and other communications. And importantly, XKS searches do not involve just communications “metadata”. The XKS system searches the contents of our Internet and telephone communications. Which is directly at odds with repeated Administration statements suggesting that NSA mass surveillance was limited to metadata.
To seize and search through all of this information without a warrant, the agency must comply with just a few legal limitations. Under the FISA Amendments Act, the NSA is not allowed to intentionally collect purely domestic information. That is, the NSA can search communications it believes begin or terminate in another country, either based on the facility where the information is collected (for example, an undersea cable) or other signifier, like an IP address that suggests origination abroad. Of course, these determinations are subject to error, particularly when the surveilled facility is in the U.S. and carries a substantial amount of purely domestic traffic.
To reduce the amount of purely domestic traffic that ends up on the desks of NSA analysts, the agency relies on post-seizure “minimization” procedures. For several reasons, however, these procedures are fundamentally inadequate to protect communications privacy. First, the minimization procedures are themselves secret. Moreover, by law, purely domestic communications that the NSA inadvertently collects need be deleted only if they “could not be” foreign intelligence information – a provision that requires the NSA to delete very little. Some minimization procedures have been leaked to the public, and these show that the government may “retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cyber security.” Even otherwise privileged communications between individuals and their lawyers are not deleted. The agency merely stores those in a separate database so they are not sent to a law enforcement agency for use in a criminal case.
Once the NSA identifies the subset of international or “one-end” foreign communications (i.e., those where a foreigner is either a sender or recipient), analysts are supposed to search only for “foreign intelligence” information. But since “foreign intelligence” includes anything relevant to the conduct of U.S. foreign affairs, this limitation alone imposes no real restraint on NSA’s warrantless spying. Certainly, the NSA isn’t limited to counterterrorism operations.
In undertaking their searches, NSA analysts use either “strong” or “soft” selectors. “Soft” selectors are a broad kind of search that pulls up messages based on content or even the language in which a message is written. When the NSA uses soft selectors, it can search the vast amounts of information it collects to retrieve all Internet users’ discussions of particular topics or in particular languages. The potentially very broad scope of searches using soft selectors is quite frightening, as ordinary Americans’ communications are likely to show up in search results.
“Strong” selectors pull up information associated with a particular known individual. The Obama Administration has repeatedly assured us that these strong selectors may only target non-U.S. persons. But screenshots of the user interface for submitting selector queries tell a different story. Published by the Guardian, they show that NSA analysts are presented with dropdown lists of preapproved factors the NSA accepts as sufficient proof that a person is a foreigner, including being “in direct contact with (a) target overseas” or the use of storage media (like a server located abroad) seized outside the U.S. So any U.S. person who talks to a foreigner that the NSA has identified as a target, or who stores data on a server outside the U.S. (as someone might well do if emailing from a foreign hotel room) may be presumed to be a foreigner. And that’s not even the worst of it. Leaked NSA documents also suggest that the agency will presume that a person is a foreigner whenever there is no information suggesting otherwise. That sort of willful blindness gives the NSA a lot of leeway to target Americans.
Worse, we now know that the NSA’s assertion that it does not “target” U.S. persons is either a lie, or is about to become one. Leaked NSA documents show that in 2011, the NSA changed its “minimization” rules to allow its operatives to search for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information. Such a change would turn “minimization” into a blanket authority to warrantless spying on Americans – in defiance of specific legal restrictions prohibiting this sort of domestic spying. Senator Ron Wyden has said that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing “warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans”, and raised the issue when he met with President Obama on August 1. This is the first time we’ve had evidence that the NSA has — or will have — the authority to warrantlessly search its databases with the specific intent of digging up information on specific U.S. individuals.
We can sum up very simply – at this moment, the NSA enjoys virtually unrestricted power to spy on Americans, without a warrant or any particular suspicion that any person spied upon has done anything wrong. Our phone, email and potentially other records are fair game for bulk collection. The contents of our communications with people overseas are also fair game, so long as there is an approved foreign intelligence purpose for the collection. The NSA does not believe that any stored emails are protected by the Fourth Amendment, so it can collect them from providers with little restraint. As far as we know, the only category of information the NSA currently believes is off limits to mass surveillance are the contents of phone calls it knows in advance are solely between Americans.
This is an astonishing development in the U.S., a nation that, until recently, carefully restricted the power of its domestic spying agencies by forcing them to submit narrow requests for spying authority to a court, which would issue a warrant if the government showed probable cause to believe that the surveillance target was engaged in some sort of wrongdoing. At this point, it’s clear those limits are gone. The United States is now a mass surveillance state.
In last week’s press conference, President Obama reassured the nation that “America isn’t interested in spying on ordinary people.” In other words, do not worry, because the information will only be used for narrow counterterrorism or broader foreign intelligence purposes. But the latest revelations show that these assurances too are a lie. Under current U.S. surveillance law, the NSA may share with domestic law enforcement information obtained both through authorized surveillance, and information unlawfully but unintentionally collected, if it contains evidence of a crime. This rule was worrisome when the NSA was only conducting targeted surveillance of foreign powers. It is terrifying now that the NSA scans virtually all American cross-border communications. And this is especially true in light of the recent reports showing that any number of other three-letter agencies are howling for access to NSA data for use in investigations of Americans’ drug use, tax evasion, and even copyright infringement. Usually, these agencies would need at least warrants based on probable cause that an individual was committing a crime before they could obtain the contents of our communications, and would need to certify to a public court that email or phone records are relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation before it could collect such traffic data. But if they get their hands on NSA data, all these bothersome civil liberties protections simply vanish.
Which brings us to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As we noted previously, the DEA has a secret division called the Special Operations Division or SOD. The SOD receives intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records from its partner agencies, of which the NSA is just one, to distribute to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. The SOD gets information from the NSA and shares it with, among other agencies, the IRS. And this is where things get truly ugly. When agents receive SOD information and rely on it to trigger investigations, they are directed to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.” IRS agents receiving SOD data, which presumably can include information from the NSA, have been similarly instructed. They are instructed, in other words, to create a fake investigative file, and to lie. To lie, in particular, to defense lawyers and to judges, about the source of the evidence used in criminal prosecutions.
By hiding the fact that information comes from NSA surveillance, the government both masks the extent to which NSA’s domestic spying is used to trigger investigations of Americans, and prevents legal challenges to highly questionable surveillance practices like bulk phone record collection, warrantless access to American communications with friends and family overseas, and retention and use of illegally obtained domestic calls and emails.
This is outrageous conduct. It is the sort of thing you expect from the Chinese government, or one of the now-vanished governments of the Warsaw Pact. And there is no stronger proof of the dangers of the NSA’s domestic spying effort than the fact that the government has consistently lied about it and attempted to cover it up. Think for just a moment about the stories J. Edgar Hoover could have plausibly concocted about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or any other civil rights activist with this kind of detailed information. The Obama Administration has gone after leakers, and the journalists at outlets like the Associated Press or the New York Times who use them as sources, with unprecedented force. Think about what the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, could do to bring down these reporters who cover – sometimes in ways the Obama Administration doesn’t like — the conduct of American foreign policy. At this point, it’s plain to see that the Obama Administration has no intention of honestly fixing this mess. So it’s time now for Congress to act. A good first step would be to appoint a Special Prosecutor with wide power to subpoena Administration officials, and to bring criminal indictments where appropriate. Congress should then begin the process of reforming surveillance law to make absolutely clear that the NSA has no power to conduct warrantless mass surveillance of Americans. First they came for the terrorists and the foreigners, and no one did anything. Then they came for the drug dealers. Then the tax cheats. Then the journalists. And that’s just what we know about. How much worse does it have to get before we say enough is enough?
Libertarianism in a Country of 313 million is anarchy…a fairy tale…a nightmare!
What are “Conservative Values” in the 21st Century?
I became a Republican in 1978. At 18 I was attracted to the message of “out of the boardroom, out of the bedroom and out of my pockets.” Smaller government seemed to make perfect sense, why do we need so much government? Simple succinct and relevant. After all I was only 18 years old, naïve and certainly not worldly. I had no experience in business, life or love. That simple message seemed to resonate it made common sense to a selfish and self-centered teenager. I was about to embark on the rest of my life, I didn’t want to pay my hard-earned dollars on taxes; I certainly didn’t believe that the US Government should be in my bedroom at 18, I understood that literally; and it made sense to an 18-year-old that too much government intrusion in business was bad…what did I know at 18.
I changed my affiliation to Independent (in California that is declined to state) because at 52 I saw the world through a different prism. I had been a manager for 30 years; I had seen human suffering; I had experienced love and loss; I had lent my support to friends and family though tough times; I experienced economic downturns and a great recession; I witnessed the devastation of 30 years of “trickle-down” economics had on the American Middle Class. I no longer was a believer in the “Conservative Values” of the 1970’s.
However the “Conservative Values” of the 21st Century make no sense, are divisive, destructive, immoral, selfish, anti-women, racist, xenophobic, homophobic and un-American. Yes I said it, I know Progressives have been on the other end of that label and are uncomfortable using it. But I am an Independent, so I dare say that the “Conservative Values” of the 21st Century are un-American bears repeating. I can’t even relate to these values at all. Corrupted by money the GOP simply manipulates its membership with hate to continue passing legislation that helps only those at the top…the infamous 1%. The “Conservative Values” of the 21st Century as I see them:
- Take back the Country for White Americans
- Union Busting
- Outsourcing of American Jobs to increase profits to shareholder
- Keep American Wages low to improve the bottom-lines for shareholders
- Deny “Climate Change” to improve the bottom-line for oil company shareholders
- Fight “gun safety” regulation to improve the bottom-line for gun manufactures
- Make Christianity the official Religion of the United States
- Prayer in schools
- Privatized education
- Privatize prisons
- Privatize roads and bridges
- Privatize Social Security
- Leave 40 million Americans without health insurance or affordable access to healthcare
- Cut taxes for the 1% while raising taxes on the American Middle Class and the poor
- Cut food assistance to Americans that would go hungry but increase subsidies to corporate agriculture to improve the bottom-line to shareholders
- Cut the social safety, but keep corporate welfare to help Wall Street make more profits for shareholders
- Ban abortion
- Ban Contraception
- Ban gay marriage
- Suppress the votes of Women, Minorities and the Millennials
- Cut Medicare funding
- Cut Medicare Benefits
- Cut benefits to Veterans
- Do not compromise with the Democratically elected President
- Do not pass any new legislation regardless if it is good for Americans
- Continue the failed War on Drugs
- Spend more on wars and the military instead of on the American people
- Do not fund disaster relief of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires or earthquakes
- Cut funding to the Nation Institutes of Health
- Pushing for a Christian belief in “creationism” over the accepted science of “evolution”
- Refuse to fund new infrastructure projects to put Americans back to work
- Fight any regulations on Wall Street to keep profits high for shareholders and stick the taxpayer with the bill to bail them out
- Fight “Consumer” protections to keep profits high for corporate America
- Disregard the wishes of the American voter to pander to a narrow GOP base
- Game the voting system to stay in power instead of coming up with new ideas
- Fight comprehensive immigration reform to keep America White
- Cut government programs to the poor and middle class in the guise of making government smaller, then give the savings to the 1% via tax cuts
Honestly I don’t know why “ANYONE” would be a Republican in the 21st Century except the 1%…time to grow up America, I did!
Paul Ryan Spending Cuts Face Backlash From Moderate Republicans
By ANDREW TAYLOR 08/12/13 03:11 AM ET EDT
WASHINGTON — Midway between the 2012 and 2014 election campaigns, moderate Republican conservatives are beginning to foment a revolt of their own – a backlash to anti-spending tea party shrillness as budget cuts begin to significantly shrink defense and domestic programs.
Tea party forces may have dominated the House GOP’s approach to the budget so far, but pragmatists in the party have served notice they won’t stand idly by for indiscriminate spending cuts to politically popular community development grants, education programs and even Amtrak.
Voting in the spring for the tea party budget developed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who was Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate last year, was one thing. But as long as a Democrat occupies the White House, Ryan’s budget is little more than a nonbinding wish list – cutting Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps and slashing budgets for domestic agencies funded annually through appropriations bills.
Many tenured Republicans, particularly members of the House Appropriations Committee, have viewed Ryan’s sweeping cuts as unworkable all along. When more than $4 billion in entirely new cuts came to the House floor in the form of an actual bill for funding transportation and housing programs, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, confronted shaky support from less ardently conservative Republicans and decided to pull the $44 billion package on July 31.
That sparked a frustrated outburst from the committee chairman, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky. He called for abandoning the Ryan budget and starting bipartisan negotiations that would provide appropriators with “a realistic spending level to fund the government in a responsible – and attainable – way.”
“Attainable” is code for something that can pass the Senate and get signed by President Barack Obama. That’s rarely a recipe for tea party fun.
It seems that the Presidential hopes of an Ayn Rand 1% utopia are being dashed for Paul Ryan. As the Republican Party does that math, some of them have finally figured out that 1% of the votes is not a sustainable strategy? Ryan Budget’s draconian cuts to programs that help keep the American Middle Class strong would spell doom as those in the Middle Class figure out that they are the ones being targeted and screwed by the GOP.
The self-serving 1% who continue to pour money into campaigns have not figured out that “Tivo” is their worst enemy. Costly TV ads did not work in the Presidential Campaign of 2012 as technology allowed those tech savvy Americans to just cut out the ads. The Primaries and Debates seem to have made a comeback and that is surely why Reince Priebus is trying to game the cable networks who will carry the Republican Primary Debates.
Paul Ryan’s budget aims to usher in an 18th Century America in a 21st Century world to undo the 20th Century gains that the Roosevelt Administration implemented to end the Great Depression. Programs that worked to strengthen the American Middle Class. As Pope Francis re-directs the Catholic Church to focus on social issues (world hunger, injustice, the poor, racism and tolerance) and lighten the Church’s tone on the divisive issue of homosexuality; Evangelicals push for immigration reform; the backlash of Reagan’s War on Drugs; the push back on Bush’s surveillance state; Women’s reaction nationwide on issues that affect their pay and health; acceptance of marriage equality; and the abject failure of free market and trickle down solutions to help bring prosperity to the middle class are only serving to brand Paul Ryan and his budget persona non grata. The shiny youthful and creative image of Paul Ryan the young boy wonder is showing his age and beginning to tarnish.
If the Republican Party is to remain relevant, they need to start coming up with ideas that help a majority of Americans prosper instead of catering to those rich in wealth but poor in votes, 1% of the voting public to be exact. The future of the Republican Party hangs in the balance, continued bleeding of support with women, minorities and Millennials is not sustainable for a national political party. Even Senior citizens seem to be turning on the GOP. “Just 28 percent of voters 65 and older had a favorable view of the Republican Party in a national survey conducted last month by the Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, versus 40 percent who had a positive view of the Democrats. That’s a reversal from a poll Greenberg conducted in early 2011, when 43 percent of seniors saw Republicans favorably and 37 percent saw Democrats that way.” according to an article in the National Journal.
The 1% is spending billions of dollars to keep White Middle Class men from voting their interest, cynically creating strategies to keep the Middle Class White Males angry at everyone else but the 1% that has systematically extracted their wealth through Wall Street graft; busted Unions that provide pensions, healthcare benefits and job security; the outsourcing of good paying American jobs to third world countries to line the pockets of the investor class at the expense of the American Middle Class. Cutting governments programs designed to help keep the Middle Class strong and viable like student loans, Medicare, Social Security, Veterans Benefits and the Social Safety net to cut taxes further for the very rich.
The Republicans in Congress have waged war on the institutions that keep our Country strong and provide stability to the markets. The short-term profit taking strategies of Wall Street create a continued stream of bubbles that burst, the system rigged so that the wealthy win even when the market crashes, as they support government guarantees for their reckless gambles at the expense of the middle class tax payers and their 401K retirement plans.
It is time for the American Middle Class to fight back, enough is enough, “We the People” must unite regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious belief, age and focus on the economic interest of a “MAJORITY” of Americans. Just remember Corporate American has lobbyist fighting for them in Washington, Wall Street fights for the Investors, CEO’s fight for the Executives and Marketing, the Board of Directors fight for the CEO’s….Stop and think who is fighting for me?
Regardless of your race or ethnicity, when you sit down at the kitchen table to pay your bills, ponder these questions. How does stopping gay people from getting married help me provide for my family? How does English only legislation help me pay for braces for my teenager? How does overturning Roe vs. Wade provide me with job security? How does voting 40 times to repeal Obamacare help me get affordable health insurance for my wife with cancer? How do tax cuts for the 1% help me pay my mortgage or rent? How does prayer in school help my children get a good ACADEMIC education so that they have a better life then I did? How does busting Unions provide me with a living wage? How does reducing funding for food assistance help me feed my family? How does shutting down the government help me send my kids to college? Ask yourself these questions America don’t let Republican talking points lead you down the path of destruction…Throw the TEA PARTY into the metaphoric Boston Harbor!
GOP REPLACEMENT MAYBE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH…
How the GOP betrayed the “Lunch Pail” Republicans…
From the Lunch Pail Republican Website:
“All across America, many life-long Republicans are feeling completely disconnected from their Party and their candidates in Washington. They want their Party to return to the issues that define what it means to be a Republican. We hear you loud and clear. It’s time to take back our party.
Are you a Lunch Pail Republican?
Do you believe in…?
- A strong economy?
- Less government?
- Good paying jobs?
- Less government intrusion in the private sector?
- Employee-sponsored health care?
- Labor-Management cooperation?
If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of the above questions, then you are a Lunch Pail Republican. It’s time to take back our party. We invite you to join us.
Who Are We?
We are Republicans who are focused on providing for ourselves and our families, protecting our rights and our property from intrusion, and keeping our country on a path toward recovery and prosperity. We’re not taking the Party in a new direction. We’re simply returning it to the traditional core Republican values that used to define who we are.
About the Lunch Pail Republicans
Statement of Principles
- We the Lunchpail Republicans believe in building and maintaining an America with a strong economy, unrivaled liberty, and a government that unobtrusively empowers the middle class.
- We believe that the Republican Party has abandoned its traditional principles by advancing an agenda that negatively impacts workers’ wages, benefits and quality of life.
- We believe that the current anti-worker agenda ultimately harms the Republican Party by discouraging middle-class Republicans from voting for Republican candidates whose policies would harm them, or worse, from participating in the election process at all.
- We believe that the interests of workers and businesses are reliant upon each other, and without one, the other cannot stand.
- We believe that elected officials have an obligation to protect workers’ interests as well as corporate interests, and that a growing disparity between the two is harmful to America’s long-term viability.
- We believe that America’s economy is strongest with the presence of a robust middle class.
- We believe that enemies of the middle class exist on both the left and the right, and the middle class must mobilize to remove them from office.
We are the Republicans who are focused on providing for ourselves and our families, protecting our rights and our property from intrusion, and keeping our country on a path toward recovery and prosperity.
We are not being represented.
Too many “Republicans” are far more focused on pushing someone else’s agenda and playing politics to get re-elected than looking out for us, the working people who they are sent there to protect.
Our beliefs are simple.
We believe in freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and most of all, in limited government. Our parents’ and grandparents’ Republican Party would never stand for the type of attacks that are being leveled against working people. We are pro-business and pro-labor because neither one can survive without the other; we will stand with candidates who stand with us.
Hands off our unions.
If we work under a union contract, chances are we are paid better than we would be without it. That means something to us. If a union helps us earn more money to support our families, paying our union a little bit is only fair. We aren’t freeloaders, and we don’t want the government forcing our union to represent freeloaders, because it will just weaken our ability to bring home those better wages.
If you think you have the right to tell any union, business, or independent organization that it has to work for nothing, stop calling yourself a Republican. Stay out of it. It’s none of your business.
We are looking for a few good working men and women.
Too many of our leaders have forgotten what is important to working people, so it is time for them to go.”
The Republican Party has moved so far to the “WACKO-EXTREME” even those that call themselves “Lunch Pail” Republicans can see that the GOP has left them behind. The Republicans wrongfully believe that “EVERYONE” that supports them is either a Corporate Executive, Investor or an Entrepreneur. 1% is 1%…and 1% is not a majority. There are working class Republicans that are increasingly feeling alienated by the Party of Lincoln.
Two years ago, 100,000 Wisconsin residents, working class Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike surrounded and occupied the state capitol. Police, Fire, Teachers and Wisconsin Citizens mobilized in one of the largest labor protests in modern American history. Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to strip public sector workers of collective bargaining rights lifted the veil of the anti-worker agendas of the new Republican leadership.
All across this Nation there are “Blue Collar Working Class” Republicans who are paid through tax dollars. Police and Fire are part of those constituencies. As the Republican Governors focus on breaking their Unions, Police and Fire need to wake up and see the direction the Party is going. The family of a firefighter killed with 18 colleagues while battling a summer wildfire is waging a campaign urging the city of Prescott, Ariz., to provide his survivors with full health and pension benefits. Firemen all across this Country need to ask themselves what are Republican Governors, Representatives and Senators doing to protect the rights of their families. Fire and Police put their lives on the line every day and all they ask in return is that their families are taken care of. Blindly trusting that the GOP has your interest at heart because you are a White Male is misplaced. You need to ask the question, what are you doing for me and my family?
Prescott, which employed Firefighter, Andrew Ashcraft and other members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, says Ashcraft and 12 others who died were seasonal employees, leaving their survivors ineligible for benefits that would go to a full-time employee. State, Local and Federal Representatives need to be pushed to act on “BEHALF” of Police and Fire. What are GOP Representatives in Arizona doing to make this situation right? Andrew Ashcraft gave his life for Arizona, what is Arizona a Red State doing to take care of its heroic firefighters and men in blue? What are the Democrats doing in that State for that matter?
“I want to be able to just be mourning my husband, be supporting my children, be figuring out what our new normal is,” Juliann Ashcraft, Andrew’s widow and mother of their four children, said at a news conference Wednesday outside the Yavapai County courthouse in Prescott. “As shocked as I was that my husband went to work and never came home, I’m equally shocked in how the city has treated our family since then,” she said.
For those Republican Firefighters and Republican Police, these are the words of widow left behind, she represents your wife and your children. Will your wife have to fight this battle all alone, will your children be left to fend for themselves? Is breaking Police and Fire Unions in your family’s best interest?
White “Lunch Pail” Republicans take too much for granted. As the GOP leadership points the fingers at women and minorities, the 1% of “YOUR” tribe betrays “YOUR” interest.
In Detroit an epic battle ensues as workers and pensioners filed suit against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and state Treasurer Andy Dillon, seeking to prevent them from filing a possible municipal bankruptcy petition for Detroit because, they argue, such a move would violate Michigan’s constitutional protections of public pension benefits. This should be a warning to Police and Fire in every major City, your State Constitutions will not help you and the Republican Governors seem to fighting against the interest of Police and Fire and not for you.
What have the Republicans in the House of Representatives done to “STOP” the outsourcing of good paying American jobs? Nothing! Absolutely nothing, but Corporate America has shipped “OUR” jobs overseas, reaped gargantuan profits and then hoarded those profits offshore. A state of denial exists among Republican policymakers and outsourcing’s corporate champions about the adverse effects on the US. As they outsource our jobs leaving us unemployed, the GOP politicians then call us lazy takers. They expect us to take 2 or 3 low paying service jobs and refuse to pass legislation that would provide a living wage.
In what might be an underestimate, a University of California study concludes that 14 million white-collar jobs are vulnerable to being outsourced offshore. These are not only call-center operators, customer service and back-office jobs, but also information technology, accounting, architecture, advanced engineering design, news reporting, stock analysis, and medical and legal services. The authors of the study note that these are the jobs of the American Dream, the jobs of upward mobility that generate the bulk of the tax revenues that fund our education, health, infrastructure, and social security systems. Ask yourself, what are the “REPUBLICANS” doing to stop this bleeding to strengthen the American Middle Class? Again NOTHING! These are “WHITE COLLAR” jobs, so those of you with College Degrees are not immune from your tribe betraying you either. The 1% are loyal to the 1%, they hoard money, they do not trickle it down to you…that trickle you feel is not money…
“The Department of Labor reports that more than one in three workers who are displaced remains unemployed, and many of those who are lucky enough to find jobs take major pay cuts. Many former manufacturing workers who were displaced a decade ago because of manufacturing that went offshore took training courses and found jobs in the information technology sector. They are now facing the unenviable situation of having their second career disappear overseas.”
What has the GOP proposed to fix this Middle Class concern? Again nothing! The misplaced loyalty that White Males have given to the GOP is being betrayed as they laugh at you behind your back and defraud you with divisive issues, like gay marriage, prayer in school, English only, banning abortion, demonizing minorities, gun rights, LGBT rights and women’s rights. How does any one of those issues improve or strengthen the American Middle Class…the 1% is laughing at you as they pick your pockets clean…there is no loyalty from the 1% to the “TRIBE” their “TRIBE” is the 1% and you are only there to provide the spoils not too share them.
Demand that the GOP acts in “YOUR” interest or tell them to take a hike “Lunch Pail” Republicans!