Tag Archives: Liberals

Intervention is Syria…to what end?

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.

Map of Iraqi Civilian Casualties

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…

What are “Conservative Values” in the 21st Century?

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.

Life Liberty

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:

  1. Take back the Country for White Americans
  2. Union Busting
  3. Outsourcing of American Jobs to increase profits to shareholder
  4. Keep American Wages low to improve the bottom-lines for shareholders
  5. Deny “Climate Change” to improve the bottom-line for oil company shareholders
  6. Fight “gun safety” regulation to improve the bottom-line for gun manufactures
  7. Make Christianity the official Religion of the United States
  8. Prayer in schools
  9. Privatized education
  10. Privatize prisons
  11. Privatize roads and bridges
  12. Privatize Social Security
  13. Leave 40 million Americans without health insurance or affordable access to healthcare
  14. Cut taxes for the 1% while raising taxes on the American Middle Class and the poor
  15. Cut food assistance to Americans that would go hungry but increase subsidies to corporate agriculture to improve the bottom-line to shareholders
  16. Cut the social safety, but keep corporate welfare to help Wall Street make more profits for shareholders
  17. Ban abortion
  18. Ban Contraception
  19. Ban gay marriage
  20. Suppress the votes of Women, Minorities and the Millennials
  21. Cut Medicare funding
  22. Cut Medicare Benefits
  23. Cut benefits to Veterans
  24. Do not compromise with the Democratically elected President
  25. Do not pass any new legislation regardless if it is good for Americans
  26. Continue the failed War on Drugs
  27. Spend more on wars and the military instead of on the American people
  28. Do not fund disaster relief of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires or earthquakes
  29. Cut funding to the Nation Institutes of Health
  30. Pushing for a Christian belief in “creationism” over the accepted science of “evolution”
  31. Refuse to fund new infrastructure projects to put Americans back to work
  32. Fight any regulations on Wall Street to keep profits high for shareholders and stick the taxpayer with the bill to bail them out
  33. Fight “Consumer” protections to keep profits high for corporate America
  34. Disregard the wishes of the American voter to pander to a narrow GOP base
  35. Game the voting system to stay in power instead of coming up with new ideas
  36. Fight comprehensive immigration reform to keep America White
  37. 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!

2014 is Around the Corner…The American Middle Class Needs to Vote for Middle Class Interests!

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.

spending cuts

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.

Worried Man At Desk And Computer Paying Bills Stock Image - Image: 14402711

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?

Racial Coalition

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!

It’s the American Middle Class STUPID!

It’s the American Middle Class Stupid!!!

In an audio recording posted Monday by the organization Right Wing Watch, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) seemed to express an openness to investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. If the conspiracy theory proved true, he said, Republicans could undo all of the administration’s policies.

Meanwhile in the world of “adult” behavior, President Barack Obama touted the work his administration has done to stem the housing crisis. The President also called for more action to improve the housing sector, including increased federal spending and new policies on access to credit for first-time homeowners, during a speech Tuesday in Phoenix.

Democratic LogoGOP no
The idea divide could not be wider and the choice could not be clearer. While Rep. Ted Yoho (Republican-Florida) diddles with himself and the far out base, the President and the Democrats continue to try and put forth “NEW” ideas to help strengthen the American Middle Class


Lindsey Graham on Angry White men
The vitriol on the far right blinds them to the GOP’s incompetence; and the addiction to the far right base takes the GOP down the rabbit hole as surely as a heroin addict in a full blown dependency. The two are co-dependent and like the family of an addict the Blue Collar “Lunch Pale” Republicans are doomed to suffer in silent misery.

For the past 5 years I have posed this question on Yahoo News, Twitter, MSNBC, Newsvine and various other comment outlets, “Name one bill the Republicans have proposed in the last 10 years that would specifically help strengthen the American Middle Class?”. Believe it or not with all the big mouth right wing trolls online, not one could give me an answer. Crickets!!!!

The GOP took over the House of Representatives in 2010 with promises to bring back jobs to the American Middle Class, as a matter of fact it is the first action item in the Republican Platform.
In an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, Speaker Boehner said the Republican Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs is “our number one focus” in the House of Representatives. “We’re trying to stay focused on those things that would improve our economy – help the American people’s wages increase and have more jobs available,” said Boehner.

GOP priorities
What we got was abortion bills, homophobic bills, voter suppression, tax cuts for the 2%, proposals to cut corporate taxes, corporate subsidies, repealing Obamacare 40 times, defunding the defunct ACORN, cutting food assistance, the sequester, birther bills, naming post offices and complete incompetence and lack of civility. The Republican Party either is out of touch or they simply don’t care about the American Middle Class. Void of ideas they cling to power with desperate claws grasping for any paltry interest from the American public. When that futile attempt at trickery fails, they move on to another hollow and trivial attempt to defraud “We the People”

If the American Middle Class does not throw these bums out, they deserve to suffer the consequences of their inaction. 2014 is a little over a year away, progressives need to be prepared as if this were a Presidential election. We vote for the President of the United States, get him into office and then move on to other distractions and then complain that the President is not doing his job. That is bull shit!! Society is moving faster, technology is making life easier and more complex at the same time. Progressives no longer have the luxury of taking the off years off. The damage the GOP has done in the last 3 years to the American Middle Class, is because “We the People” failed to vote our interests in 2010. The election has consequences.
As the Republican Party plans their government shutdown, threatening to bring down the United States economy to defund a program that helps “YOU” and your family. Think about this. What has the Republican Party done in the last 30 years that has been good for the American Middle Class? What bill have the Republicans proposed that were drafted “SPECIFICALLY” to strengthen the Middle Class? This is no trick question the answer is a dismal and unambiguous NOTHING! The GOP is good for NOTHING, USELESS and INCOMPETENT…unable and unwilling to govern…so fire them!

BLANKNESS and DESOLATION now drive the GOP. Their desperation is evident in their continued efforts to suppress the vote. Without new ideas all they can do is game our system or try to destroy our democracy. Like a wounded animal they lash out and have become dangerous, unpredictable and irrational. Like a mate that has lost all hope they cling desperately and pathetically like a piece of gum left in the sun too long. The pong of desperation is all over them, the reek of failures is all over the Republicans in the House…The Nation looks on in amazement at the once proud Party of Lincoln implodes in on itself…who would associate themselves with desperate?

Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

By John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke                                 WASHINGTON |          Mon Aug 5, 2013 3:25pm EDT

(Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”


The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.

“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents 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.”

A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.

But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.

A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.


After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”

The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”

A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.

“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.

Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.


“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”

Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”

Lustberg and others said the government’s use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant’s identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.

“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”

Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.

“It’s a balancing act, and they’ve doing it this way for years,” Spelke said. “Do I think it’s a good way to do it? No, because now that I’m a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge.”


One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.” The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.

A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.

The SOD’s role providing information to agents isn’t itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.

The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD’s role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don’t accidentally try to arrest each other.


The unit also played a major role in a 2008 DEA sting in Thailand against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; he was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The SOD also recently coordinated Project Synergy, a crackdown against manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of synthetic designer drugs that spanned 35 states and resulted in 227 arrests.

Since its inception, the SOD’s mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit’s annual budget. A recent LinkedIn posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.

Today, the SOD offers at least three services to federal, state and local law enforcement agents: coordinating international investigations such as the Bout case; distributing tips from overseas NSA intercepts, informants, foreign law enforcement partners and domestic wiretaps; and circulating tips from a massive database known as DICE.

The DICE database contains about 1 billion records, the senior DEA officials said. The majority of the records consist of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are kept for about a year and then purged, the DEA officials said.

About 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents have access to the DICE database, records show. They can query it to try to link otherwise disparate clues. Recently, one of the DEA officials said, DICE linked a man who tried to smuggle $100,000 over the U.S. southwest border to a major drug case on the East Coast.

“We use it to connect the dots,” the official said.


Wiretap tips forwarded by the SOD usually come from foreign governments, U.S. intelligence agencies or court-authorized domestic phone recordings. Because warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is illegal, tips from intelligence agencies are generally not forwarded to the SOD until a caller’s citizenship can be verified, according to one senior law enforcement official and one former U.S. military intelligence analyst.

“They do a pretty good job of screening, but it can be a struggle to know for sure whether the person on a wiretap is American,” the senior law enforcement official said.

Tips from domestic wiretaps typically occur when agents use information gleaned from a court-ordered wiretap in one case to start a second investigation.

As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don’t worry that SOD’s involvement will be exposed in court. That’s because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.

Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.

Police Spying

“It was an amazing tool,” said one recently retired federal agent. “Our big fear was that it wouldn’t stay secret.”

DEA officials said that the SOD process has been reviewed internally. They declined to provide Reuters with a copy of their most recent review.

(Edited by Blake Morrison)

The Republican Platform-SIZE DOES MATTER! The GOP VIAGRA?

The Republican Platform and the American Middle Class-Part 2 (Small Business and Entrepreneurship)

Size Does Matter

This is the second installment of my dissection of the 2012 Republican Platform.  I am going to review each section to see how the American Middle Class fairs in the Republican agenda.  Section 2 in the GOP Platform is Small Business and Entrepreneurship, catnip to the Republican Party.  For as long as I can remember the Republicans have been advocating for small businesses and entrepreneurs. It is like their Viagra or Cialis, an aphrodisiac for right wing passions.  But in the fight for small business, does SIZE matter?  It always does America!

What is a small business? The GOP would like us to conjure up Victorian Main Street, the grocer, baker and candlestick maker.  The “backbone” of America, apple pie, kittens, puppies and the American flag.  Let me tell you America small business is “big business”.

Employment size of Enterprise Number of Firms Number Employee’s
All Firms



Non-Employer Firms



Employer Firms



1-4 Employees



5-9 Employees



10-19 Employees



20-99 Employees



100-499 Employees



500+ Employees



    Census Bureau   2008

About three quarters of all U.S. business firms have no payroll 21,351,320. Most are self-employed persons operating unincorporated businesses, and may or may not be the owner’s principal source of income. Because non-employers account for only about 3.4 percent of business receipts $962,791,527.00, they are not included in most business statistics, and for example, most reports from the Economic Census.

Clearly when the GOP is advocating for small business and entrepreneurs at the expense of the rest of us, it can’t be for 3.4 percent of business receipts I am guessing?  That doesn’t even amount to one billion dollars.  Interesting…Let us drill down a little farther.

In 2007 receipts for companies with payrolls was $29,746,741,904.

*Receipts (net of taxes) are defined as the revenue for goods produced, distributed, or services provided, including revenue earned from premiums, commissions and fees, rents, interest, dividends, and royalties. Receipts excludes all revenue collected for local, state, and federal taxes. Receipts are acquired from the Economic Census data for establishments in industries that are in-scope to the Economic Census; receipts are acquired from IRS tax data for single-establishment businesses in industries that are out-of-scope to the Economic Census; payroll-to-receipts ratios are used to estimate receipts for multi-establishment businesses in industries that are out-of-scope to the Economic Census.

Ah now we are getting somewhere…shall we drill down? Let’s.  BIG BIGGER BIGGEST…OMG it’s so BIG!

The Republican Platform 2012-Small Business & Entrepreneurship

“[1.] Small Business and Entrepreneurship America’s small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, employing tens of millions of workers. Small businesses create the vast majority of jobs, patents, and U.S. exporters.  Under the current Administration, we have the lowest rate of business startups in thirty years. [2.] Small businesses are the leaders in the world’s advances in technology and innovation, and we pledge to strengthen that role and foster small business entrepreneurship. [3.] While small businesses have significantly contributed to the nation’s economic growth, our government has failed to meet its small business goals year after year and failed to overcome burdensome regulatory, contracting, and capital barriers. This impedes their growth. [4.] We will reform the tax code to allow businesses to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America. [5.] We will encourage investments in small businesses. We will create an environment where adequate financing and credit are available to spur manufacturing and expansion. We will serve as aggressive advocates for small businesses.”

[1.] Small Business and Entrepreneurship America’s small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, employing tens of millions of workers. Small businesses create the vast majority of jobs, patents, and U.S. exporters.  Statistics show that companies with 1-499 employees, employ 59,693,991 people; 500+ employee 61,209,560; and Federal, State, Local and the Military together employ 19,900,880 people (Government doesn’t produce jobs, remember that one?).  The US Government considers any company under 500 a small business.

Fact Check: Is Donald Trump a small business?

By the CNN Wire Staff   Updated 12:32 PM EDT, Fri October 5, 2012

(CNN) — President Barack Obama invoked Donald Trump’s name during Wednesday’s presidential debate, claiming that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would consider the mogul’s empire a small business.

“Under Governor Romney’s definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses,” President Obama said. “Donald Trump is a small business. Now, I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything — but that’s how you define small businesses if you’re getting business income.”

The facts:

While there is no universally accepted definition of a small business, the federal government defines it as any business that employs fewer than 500 people.

The Trump Organization employs 22,000 people. But Trump also runs a number of other companies that employ fewer than 500, meaning that — under the federal government’s definition — he qualifies as a small business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which uses the 500-worker maximum in its definition, such firms employ half of all private-sector workers and pay 44% of the total U.S. private payroll. In 2009, there were 27.5 million businesses in the nation, 99.7% of which were small firms.

IRS data on the highest-income people in the country underscores that small business does not necessarily mean small profits. Of the top 400 people — who got $19.8 billion in S corporation and partnership net income in 2009 — 237 count as small businesses.

An analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center finds that extending tax cuts for people who make more than $250,000 per year ($200,000 for single filers) would disproportionately help the richest taxpayers: 82% of the cut would go to people with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income, who would get an average tax cut of $164,000 apiece.

Romney’s plan does not single out small businesses for special treatment. His plan attempts to lower taxes on all businesses — big or small.

Conclusion: While Romney’s plan does not define who is or is not a small business, some of Donald Trump’s companies would qualify as a small business because they have fewer than 500 employees.

CNNMoney’s Small Business Reporter Jose Pagliery and CNN’s Diane Laposta contributed to this report

[2.] Small businesses are the leaders in the world’s advances in technology and innovation, and we pledge to strengthen that role and foster small business entrepreneurship.

The Marketplace Fairness Act will bankrupt small businesses Drex Davis Co-Founder, eMainStreet Alliance

Last month, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), which would force online business to collect and remit sales taxes to remote states. The bill is now under the purview of the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (REPUBLICAN-VA).

The eMainStreet Alliance, which I co-founded, is a grassroots group of more than 300 online retailers who have come together to help lawmakers understand the destructiveness of the MFA. Our members have been compiling the cost of implementation for their organizations. In a recent letter to the House Judiciary Committee, we highlighted that these costs range from $20,000 to $300,000 in the first year alone, costs that exceed the annual profits of many of our companies.

Proponents of the MFA, such as Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association, say that deciphering, collecting and remitting taxes to more than 9,600 jurisdictions will be “relatively simple” because “technology and innovation will make [it so].” That’s not true. Compliance will be anything but simple.

For example, in Wisconsin, U.S. flags and Wisconsin state flags are sold tax-free, while other flags are subject to sales tax. However, the rules are different when a flag is bundled with a flagpole. There are thousands of examples like this; each jurisdiction has its own idiosyncratic tax laws. A printout of the rates and exemptions for all jurisdictions is 811 pages long — four inches tall when stacked.

If the House passes the MFA, audits will commence. These audits will come from states where we have no physical presence, no political representation and no right to vote. The number of states capable of auditing our businesses will increase from one to as many as 46 (the number of states with sales taxes). Online retailers will then be vulnerable to the sort of tax-agency targeting that has shocked Americans in recent weeks — from 46 different state tax-collection agencies. That’s terrifying.

Penalties for sales tax noncompliance tend to be onerous, and most states can hold a company’s “responsible person(s)” personally liable for any unpaid sales tax liabilities. A state can confiscate our personal possessions in order to collect unpaid sales tax owed by our companies. Unlike Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, Best Buy, Home Depot and other big retailers, we do not have armies of accountants and tax attorneys to deal with costly and time-consuming audits from every state. Yet, one innocent mistake could put us out of business and personally bankrupt us.

Proponents of the MFA are blind to this reality. Bill Hughes, a lobbyist for the Retail Industry Leaders Association representing Wal-Mart, Abercrombie & Fitch and others, said, “If you’re over $1 million in sales, you’re big business. We aren’t crushing any mom-and-pop stores with this legislation.” The Small Business Association says that businesses of $30 million or less in annual sales are small businesses. Most members of the eMainStreet Alliance don’t come close to exceeding this threshold and are mom and pops, too. Crushing our businesses is exactly what this legislation does.

Consider that the largest and most powerful online retailers in the world, Amazon.com, currently has a 1% profit margin. A business with annual sales of $1 million with Amazon’s margins makes $10,000 in profit. Factor in the cost of compliance with the MFA starting at about $20,000 and you can see how the MFA threatens online mom and pops.

Proponents of the law say that without the MFA, Internet companies will put brick-and-mortar retailers out of business. Don’t be misled. The truth is that online sales are already dominated by brick-and-mortar businesses. According to James S. Gilmore III, the former chairman of the Congressional Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, 83% of all online sales are by big-box retailers, and their share of online sales is growing.

Big-box retailers see the MFA as a way to put online mom and pops out of business, just as they’ve put your local mom and pops out of business.

should stand with small business — the backbone of economic growth — and oppose the MFA.

Drex Davis is a co-owner of Scrapbook.com and co-founder of the eMainStreet Alliance, a grassroots organization consisting of more than 300 small online retailers. Connect with him at eMainStreet.org.

Tags: Drex Davis, Marketplace Fairness Act, small businesses

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/04/the-marketplace-fairness-act-will-bankrupt-small-businesses/#ixzz2apfP7UL4

[3.] While small businesses have significantly contributed to the nation’s economic growth, our government has failed to meet its small business goals year after year and failed to overcome burdensome regulatory, contracting, and capital barriers. This impedes their growth.

Regulations, taxes aren’t killing small business, owners say

Rip Daniels, a businessman in Gulfport, Mississippi, says government regulation is not hurting his radio and real estate business, rising insurance costs are. It’s a topic overlooked by politicians who claim taxes and regulation are choking job creation. | MBR/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT

Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Politicians and business groups often blame excessive regulation and fear of higher taxes for tepid hiring in the economy. However, little evidence of that emerged when McClatchy canvassed a random sample of small business owners across the nation.

“Government regulations are not ‘choking’ our business, the hospitality business,” Bernard Wolfson, the president of Hospitality Operations in Miami, told The Miami Herald. “In order to do business in today’s environment, government regulations are necessary and we must deal with them. The health and safety of our guests depend on regulations. It is the government regulations that help keep things in order.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among the most vocal critics of the Obama administration, blaming excessive regulation and the administration’s overhaul of health care laws for creating an environment of uncertainty that’s hampering job creation.

When it’s asked what specific regulations harm small businesses _which account for about 65 percent of U.S. jobs — the Chamber of Commerce points to health care, banking and national labor. Yet all these issues weigh much more heavily on big corporations than on small business.

“When you look at regulations in many respects, what a lot of people don’t take into account is their secondary impacts,” said Giovanni Coratolo, the vice president of small business policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “They pay the price, regardless of whether they are primarily the recipient of the regulation or they are secondarily getting the impact of it. They pay the price in higher costs, whether it is fuel or health care or whether it’s being able to find access to capital.”

McClatchy reached out to owners of small businesses, many of them mom-and-pop operations, to find out whether they indeed were being choked by regulation, whether uncertainty over taxes affected their hiring plans and whether the health care overhaul was helping or hurting their business.

Their response was surprising.

None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.

Wolfson’s firm is readying to open a Hampton Inn this year in Miami on land purchased from a condo developer during the housing downturn. His business could be in line for higher taxes if President Barack Obama allows the current, lower rates on the richest Americans to expire in 2012 and return to previous levels.

That didn’t seem to bother Wolfson, who through his partnership declares profit and loss as a pass-through on his personal income taxes, as many small businesses do.

“Higher taxes are not good for business, but some of the loopholes and deductions should be looked at,” he said.

The answer from Rick Douglas — the owner of Minit Maids, a cleaning service with 17 employees in Charlotte, N.C. — was more blunt.

“I think the rich have to be taxed, sorry,” Douglas said. He added that he isn’t facing a sea of new regulations but that he does struggle with an old issue, workers’ compensation claims.

Douglas told The Charlotte Observer that he’s hired more workers this year, citing pent-up demand from customers.

“My theory is that the people that do have jobs are working harder and they have less time to clean. People were holding back for such a long time, and then they started spending a little more,” he said.

Then there’s Rip Daniels. He owns four businesses in Gulfport, Miss.: real estate ventures, a radio station and a boutique hotel/bistro. He said his problem wasn’t regulation.

“Absolutely, positively not. What is choking my business is insurance. What’s choking all business is insurance. You cannot go into business, any business — small business or large business — unless you can afford insurance,” he told Biloxi’s Sun Herald.

Since 2008, Daniels has opened one business and expanded another, hiring as many as 15 people thanks to lower labor costs and an abundance of overqualified job candidates. He credits the federal stimulus effort with helping to keep some smaller firms afloat.

“It allowed those folks to spend and have money and pay for the essentials,” said Daniels, whose business pays corporate taxes. He grudgingly supports closing some business tax deductions to reduce the federal budget deficit.

“Who wants to pay more? I certainly don’t. I want to pay my fair share, and I do,” Daniels said, adding that he wouldn’t resist loophole closures to cut deficits.

For Zajic Appliance in south Sacramento, California’s capital city, business also has picked up. The company hired two workers this year, bringing the total to 18, said Christopher Zajic, who manages the family business.

One odd reason for his improving business: sales of bank-owned properties in a city that’s among those hardest hit by the housing crash. When these houses sell, he said, their new owners generally replace appliances.

California used some of its federal stimulus money to pay for a “Cash for Appliances” program last year, a rebate program for purchases of energy-efficient washing machines and refrigerators.

“It spiked sales,” Zajic told The Sacramento Bee, adding that he thinks the effort simply compressed sales into a shorter time period rather than created new demand.

For many small businesses, their chief problem is an old one: navigating the bureaucracy of the Small Business Administration to secure government-backed loans.

“My biggest problem is the current status of the banking system and how it’s being over-regulated,” Dennis Sweeney, a co-owner of Summit Sportswear Inc., told The Kansas City Star. “I want to grow this business, and I’m using the same credit line that I’ve been using for five years.”

Kansas City-based Summit, 20 years old, supplies college-licensed clothing to university bookstores in four Midwestern states. Sweeney hired his fourth employee in August. He’s adding licenses to sell apparel to colleges in the Southeast and Atlantic region, but his company doesn’t have inventory or other collateral that bankers usually want to secure loans.

And the small local banks Summit deals with frown on the red tape required for SBA loans, after a loan he got in 2008 took three months of nightmarish documentation.

“It was only $35,000,” Sweeney said. “Our bank basically said it would never do that again.”

Other small firms say their problem is simply a lack of customers.

“I think the business climate is so shaky that I would not want to undergo any expansion or outlay capital,” said Andy Weingarten, who owns Almar Auto Repair in Charlotte. He’s thinking about hiring one more mechanic.

Added Barry Grant, the regional president of Meritage Homes Corp., in California, “It starts with jobs. … There’s an awful lot of people sitting on the fence; they’re waiting for a sign.”

One reason hiring remains dampened is the prolonged slump in the housing sector, a driver of the pre-crisis economy. Meritage builds homes in California and six other states. It’ll build fewer than 1,000 homes in the Golden State this year, well below the 2,500 annually it built during boom times.

Another cause of sagging demand for new houses, Grant told The Sacramento Bee, is the planned October change to loan limits in order for a homeowner to qualify for a federal government-insured home loan. It was boosted to as high as $769,000 in parts of the country during the financial crisis, but Republicans in Congress have pushed for a return to lower limits and less government involvement in the housing market.

In Sacramento County, the change would mean a new loan limit of $474,000 to qualify, well below the current $580,000. Around the nation, the loan-limit change has created uncertainty.

“Any uncertainty in the market makes people hold off,” said Grant. “It builds a certain level of uncertainty.”

Sometimes a small business’s struggle has nothing to do with government at all.

Lynn Swager, a co-owner of Brass on Ivory in Edgewater, Md., sells, rents and repairs musical instruments. She faces a completely different sort of challenge.

“The thing that chokes us, believe or not, is the Internet. There are so many things that are accessible on the Internet that they can purchase for less than I can purchase from my distributor,” Swager told McClatchy. “Everybody thinks the Internet is this great thing that is happening to the world, but it is really, I think, killing a lot of small business. People that we talk to that are no longer in business say the same thing exactly.”

(Mark Davis of The Kansas City Star, Doug Hanks and Hannah Sampson of The Miami Herald, Donna Harris of the Biloxi Sun Herald; Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee and Eleanor Kennedy of The Charlotte Observer contributed to this article.)

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/01/122865/regulations-taxes-arent-killing.html#storylink=cpy


[4.]. We will reform the tax code to allow businesses to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America.

Small Business Baloney…GOP tax claims should be fact checked

FAIR Fair and Accuracy In Reporting, July 12, 2012

Barack Obama’s July 9 announcement that he would extend the Bush tax cuts for income below $250,000 prompted the expected response from Republican politicians and presidential candidate Mitt Romney: This is a tax increase on “small businesses.”

That is false. But most news reports won’t say so.

The New York Times (7/10/12) told readers that Obama

said that 98 percent of households and 97 percent of small businesses would receive a tax cut under his plan. But Republicans said the president’s proposal would amount to a broad tax on small businesses because many business owners report their profits as personal income.

In the Washington Post (7/10/12), readers learned that Republicans “charged that the president’s plan would raise taxes on small-business owners.” That point was illustrated by quotes from House Speaker John Boehner and and a representative for the Romney campaign, which were balanced with the statement that “Obama said his plan would cover 98 percent of the working public and 97 percent of small-business owners.”

The headline of a USA Today story (7/10/12) captured the same spirit: “Obama Seeks to Extend Tax Cuts for Middle Class; GOP Critics Say Plan Will Hurt Small Business.”

On ABC‘s Good Morning America, Jonathan Karl (7/10/12) reported, “Romney says raising taxes on those with higher incomes means raising taxes on small businesses.”

Newspaper stories the following day followed a similar pattern: Republicans say this is a tax on small businesses, while Obama says it is not. In the Washington Post (7/11/12), Romney “said the president’s plan would keep taxes at the same level for many Americans while raising taxes on what he called ‘job creators and small businesses.'”

The Los Angeles Times (7/11/12) added another layer of inaccuracy by reporting that Obama’s plan “would extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for those making up to $250,000 a year but not for upper-income Americans.” That is incorrect; wealthy Americans will also receive a tax cut on the income they earn up to the $250,000 level (Citizens for Tax Justice, 6/20/12; NYMag.com, 7/9/12).

This Republican small business argument is a familiar one; in 2010 Republicans sought to portray any increase in taxes on income above $250,000 as a tax on small-business owners (FAIR Action Alert, 9/13/10).

Then, as now, the argument is almost entirely bogus. The share of filers who could qualify as small business owners is tiny–about 2 percent of small business owners, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. The increase would affect, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, about 3 percent of filers who claim any business income (Think Progress, 7/9/12).

So why don’t reporters just say that? Some who try to put the numbers in context seem afraid to call out one side for being deceptive. On CBS Evening News (7/9/12), Norah O’Donnell reported the story this way:

Mitt Romney said today that the president’s proposal would mean a massive tax increase on job-creators and small businesses. Many of those small businesses pay at an individual tax rate. But the president said it would affect just 3 percent of small businesses. Still, Scott that would affect about 250,000 small businesses.

Turning the tiny percentage into a number that sounds impressive seems a pretty clear attempt to make viewers think the Romney campaign had a point.

One part of the newspaper did explain the dispute clearly: The New York Times editorial page (7/10/12), which called the Republican argument about small business “nonsense.”

But the corporate media’s bias toward giving credence to official claims from both political parties means you have to treat that question of fact as a matter of opinion–which, of course, is a problem, if you think that separating fact from misinformation is a key part of a journalist’s job.

And the failure to challenge Republican distortions gives them no reason to stop making them. As the Los Angeles Times reported (7/10/12), “Polls also show that Republicans do better when they frame upper-income tax increases as a threat to small businesses, a group that voters tend to like.”

That is especially true when media don’t tell the public that the claim is almost entirely bogus.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/04/the-marketplace-fairness-act-will-bankrupt-small-businesses/#ixzz2apdiMwTW

[5.] We will encourage investments in small businesses. We will create an environment where adequate financing and credit are available to spur manufacturing and expansion. We will serve as aggressive advocates for small businesses.

Grim Reapers: How Republicans Are Killing Small Business in America

Sanjay Sanghoee, Huffington Post, Posted: 03/01/2013 4:28 pm

One thing we know for sure is that the Republican Party is pro-business, right? Wrong. The Republican Party is not pro-business, it’s pro-BIG-business; and as for small businesses – those little engines of enterprise and innovation that collectively embody and drive the American dream – the GOP is more than happy to kill them off.

If that sounds extreme, consider the following facts.

Despite President Obama’s repeated calls to settle the sequester debate by letting revenues be considered as part of the equation with spending cuts, the Republicans have stubbornly refused to consider any compromise, and now the Senate has even rejected a proposal to give the president some control in administering the automatic spending cuts. As a result, our nation will fall into an $85 billion abyss with all the forethought and caution that a 3-year old applies while crossing the road.

Everyone from our soldiers to the federal workforce will take the hit for this irresponsibility, but the small business sector will suffer particularly badly. According to government estimates, the sequester would reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $902 million. For small businesses, who have been struggling ever since the financial crisis and for whom the availability of capital is essential for day-to-day survival, let alone growth and hiring, this sudden lending crunch will add insult to injury.

Small business lending in 2011 already declined by 6.9 percent from the previous year and big banks, usually the mainstay of lending to the sector, have pulled back. In addition, the spending cuts in the sequester will hamper jobs, wages, and therefore consumption, which is a body blow to commerce and puts even more pressure on businesses to borrow money.

All this leaves the small business sector at the mercy of alternative lenders, who typically charge double the interest rates of traditional lenders and impose onerous terms on companies. What the sequester will do, in effect, is raise the cost of capital dramatically for small businesses, and by doing so, force them to fire workers, downsize operations, or even shut down completely – all of which will derail our already-fragile economic recovery.

Despite this, the Republicans don’t seem to care. In fact, the only thing they do care about is preserving tax breaks for the richest Americans (who are generally not the small business owners whom the GOP uses as examples for their anti-tax arguments), fighting the closure of tax loopholes that enable major corporations to shield their money from the IRS (but which small businesses get no benefit from), and trying to gut the public infrastructure that small businesses depend on heavily to transact their trade.

And the biggest irony is that this is the same political party that spends most of its time criticizing the president for not caring about small businesses and pretending to be champions of the sector.

The problem is that the GOP is not a party of stability and prosperity but a party of strife. Jamie Dimon, the controversial CEO of JP Morgan Chase, recently said that the bank does well in times of adversity. That seems to be true of the Republicans as well, who are never as happy as when they can throw a monkey wrench into the works and then win elections on the promise of fixing whatever was broken! Mitt Romney ran his entire campaign on this theme without once acknowledging that the very reasons for our economic meltdown were the lack of regulatory oversight favored by his own party as well as non-stop obstructionism by House Republicans to President Obama’s economic agenda.

This dysfunction must stop. The small business sector has historically made up more than 50% of our economy but has been steadily declining. Even more disturbing is the fact that this decline is accelerating fast. Republican propaganda over tax breaks and the fantasy of trickle-down economics hide the fact that the majority of tax breaks that are in play will only benefit big companies and uber-wealthy individuals, and that the spending cuts the conservatives want will hurt small businesses, who rely on public infrastructure and lending, disproportionately.

The Republican stance on the sequester and beyond is an abomination and needs to be repudiated. Otherwise we can kiss America’s cherished small businesses goodbye, and with it, our economic future.

SANJAY SANGHOEE has worked at leading investment banks Lazard Freres and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein as well as at a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

As far as I can tell the Republican Party is no friend of Small Business, they seem to advocate for Large Companies at the expense of Small Business America if push comes to shove.   Small Business is indeed Main Street USA, but make no mistake, the Republican Party is all about WALL STREET and BIG BUSINESS!  When they do advocate for small business it is for the Donald Trump Inc. types…not for Mr and Mrs. Mainstreet or the Independent Contractor as they would have you believe…In the world of DC Republican politics….SIZE DOES MATTER!  Small Business needs to remind the GOP it’s not how big it is but how you use it…

To the Party of Christian Values…”Who Am I To Judge Them?” Pope Francis

Pope FrancisSt. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis On Gays: Who Am I To Judge Them?

By Paul Brandeis Raushenbush posted: 07/29/2013 8:01 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/29/2013 11:34 am EDT Huffington Post

ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRCRAFT — Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn’t judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

Francis’ remarks came Monday during a plane journey back to the Vatican from his first foreign trip in Brazil.

He was funny and candid during a news conference that lasted almost an hour and a half. He didn’t dodge a single question, even thanking the journalist who raised allegations reported by an Italian newsmagazine that one of his trusted monsignors was involved in a scandalous gay tryst.

Francis said he investigated and found nothing to back up the allegations.

Francis was asked about Italian media reports suggesting that a group within the church tried to blackmail fellow church officials with evidence of their homosexual activities. Italian media reported this year that the allegations contributed to Benedict’s decision to resign

While stressing Catholic social teaching that calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalized, Francis said it was something else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to exert pressure.

Francis was responding to reports that a trusted aide was involved in an alleged gay tryst a decade ago. He said he investigated the allegations according to canon law and found nothing to back them up. But he took journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.

And when someone sins and confesses, he said, God not only forgives but forgets.

“We don’t have the right to not forget,” he said.

Life Liberty and Justice for All

“Who am I too judge them” a great question for Christians.  For the past 30 years the Republicans have used “homosexuality” as a wedge issue and the Catholic Church was complicit in the persecution of the gay community.  Today Pope Francis took the first step in pivoting the Holy Roman Catholic Church back to focusing on social issues, income inequality, hunger, healthcare and the plight of the poor.   The comments from the Pope are Biblically rooted and for years have been ignored and overlooked by conservative Christian religions around the world.

Jesus Christ spoke for the poor, sick and disenfranchised.  As Christians we are asked to be Christ-like and the Holy Scriptures are clear, we are not to judge each other:

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”

Romans 14:1-23 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. …

Corinthians 4:1-21 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. ..

John 8:7 “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

Matthew 5:22  “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire”

Romans 2:1 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

 John 3:16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”


One more “wedge” issue has fallen.  Again I urge “ALL” atheist, agnostics, progressives, liberals and Democrats to hold the “Party of Christian Values, the GOP” to the tenets of the Holy Scriptures.  Take the judgmental wedge issues from them and use the Bible to do it!  The Republican time of division is over…

“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him…”

“FRESH” and “NEW” GOP Ideas to Address America’s Issues???

Is the GOP “Intellectually Exhausted”?

  • Outsourcing of high Paying Jobs
  • Stagnant wages
  • A “Living Wage”
  • Rising College Tuitions/access to higher education for the Middle Class
  • Healthcare/Insurance
  • Retirement
  • Job security
  • Income inequality
  • Rising suburban poverty rates
  • Hunger in America
  • Crumbling American Cities
  • Aging, dangerous and crumbing infrastructure
  • Middle Class mobility and opportunities
  • 30,000 Americans dying from gun violence
  • Voting rights
  • Social justice
  • Race relations
  • Income disparity between Men and Women
  • Women’s right to control her own body
  • Women’s health
  • The failed War on Drugs
  • Broken immigration system
  • Climate Change
  • The Environment
  • Mass imprisonment of American Citizens
  • Online Privacy
  • NSA spying of American Citizens

Do the Republicans have “NEW” and “FRESH” ideas to address these pressing American issues?

GOP no