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2014 NY Conservative Party conference – 1/27/14

On Monday Jan. 27, 2014, I had the pleasure to join Republicans and Conservatives from across New York State at the NY Conservative Party conference, held in Albany NY. It was an all day event, featuring speakers that included potential candidate for NY Governor Rob Astorino, Karen Moreau speaking on fracking in New York and America’s energy independence, Elise Stefanik who is running for the NY-21, and Betsy McCaughey speaking on the travails of Obamacare and its divergence from the convoluted law passed in 2009 and how it has become even more incomprehensible. It was one of the most welcoming experiences I have ever had.

There were literally hundreds in attendance, and the luncheon was filled as we listened to writer Peggy Noonan speak about Presidents Reagan and Bush. There was no lack of concerned New Yokers, each and every one of them opting to stay in New York and make it a better, more business friendly, more open-minded and politically diverse State than Gov. Cuomo ever conceived. That is the strength of New Yorkers – when faced with a challenge we face it head on.

I was able to speak with people from across the State including :Jeffery Cleary of the Irish American Republicans, Jim Kelly who worked on the Joe DioGuardi campaign, Henry Ford of the St. Lawrence Conservative Party, Randy Pascarella who won his bid for the Schenectady County Legislature, Stephen Aldstadt of SCOPE Inc (fighting to protect our 2nd Amendment Rights against the Safe Act). I saw old friends like George Phillips, the current legislator for the 8th District in Broome County and also in a run for re-election in the 2014 mid-terms. I made new friends like James Swindell who saw fit to make an initial donation after speaking with me for an hour, and Carl Paladino who was generous enough to take the time to hear about my reasons for running for the NY-22 congressional seat, and John Burnett who ran for NY Comptroller in 2013 and provided new inspiration on running for elected office for the first time.

But 2 people were of particular note.

Hal Brilliant, Chairman of the Dutchess County Conservative Party, took the step to support my position with regard to defending the 2nd Amendment and against the NY Safe Act. Like myself, Chairman Brilliant agrees that the NY Safe Act does not protect law abiding citizens, and does little to nothing to prevent mass shootings or stop criminal acts of violence. Chairman Brilliant went one step further to offer his support in my bid for election.

Also of note was my chance to speak with Michael Long, State Chairman of the NY Conservative Party. His efforts to welcome me, and his attention to my efforts was generous. It’s not often that an opportunity to speak with the head of such a large and powerful organization occurs, but I observed Chairman Long do so several times. It’s a welcome change from the norm.

Overall, my time at the CPPAC was fruitful on many levels. I gained greater insight on how I can further help the constituents of the NY-22, how I can further my efforts to get elected, and a far greater view of the scope of the Republican and Conservative efforts to improve the quality of life in New York State, and Congress.

I thank all those that took the time to meet with me, to hear my views on Congress and reintroducing accountability in Government. I look forward to future conversations, as my credentials and commitment are reviewed.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez
Candidate for NY 22nd Congressinal District in 2014

Drones can be a unifying bipartisan issue across a chasm of differences

I have written consistently about the potentials for unmanned aerial aircraft, commonly called drones, both as a positive and a negative. It is an issue I have been speaking about in interviews and in articles such as back in May 2013. Recent developments have made the discussion even more timely and of concern.

After 3 years of legislative effort, Rep. Hanna – my opponent – succeeded in having New York State designated as a testing zone for drones targeted to be used domestically by U.S. Agencies and local level authorities. The new testing zones touted by my opponent are part of a 2017 directive from the FAA that will ensure widespread use across the nation. But, the push for drones by the Drone Caucus (which includes Rep. Hanna) omits a critical point. The very question that was posed to FBI Director Mueller, how are drones being used, elicited, in part, this response

“…we’re exploring not only the use, but the necessary guidelines for that use.” – FBI Director Robert Mueller to Congress on 6/19/13

This of course flies in the face of evidence, reported by the L.A. Times in September 2013, that drones have been used since 2006. Thus, based on testimony given to Congress, either the FBI, DEA, and other agencies have been using drones in a roguish cowboy manner or their actual use is being kept from the American people and Congress. Pick whichever choice you like, but the result is that abuse is likely rampant and unchecked – because there is,

“There’s very little in American privacy law that would limit the use of drones for surveillance.” – Ryan Calo, assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law

Thus several members of Congress, including Republicans outside of the Drone Caucus, have sought to spend the last several years trying to pass legislation to limit the domestic use of drones. This includes: Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-TX), Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and others.

This has led me to observe the following, which was printed Jan. 16, 2014 in the Utica Observer Dispatch

“[Rep. Hanna] has put 700,000 constituents, plus the nation, at risk of future abuse and privacy intrusions — all because he failed to submit a single bill to protect the public.

That’s a job half done.”

But the issue does not stop there. As divisive as modern politics can be, as polarizing as mid-term elections always are, restricting the abuse of drones has become a unifying bipartisan legislative agenda, at least in part of the country. Most recently, in South Carolina, the State House unanimously passed H3514 – which would restrict the use of drones, preventing situations like that of the FBI.

The domestic use of drones is quickly becoming a national issue. It has bipartisan support. But it faces those Representatives, at the Federal level, that refused to restrict the NSA from arbitrarily targeting innocent Americans, and collecting their private data. It’s no surprise that those that voted against supporting the Amash Amendment have failed on similar measures to protect constituents from domestic drones.

It will be either gratifying, or terrifying, to see the outcome on domestic drone use. Political lines are being blurred for the sake of protecting the 4th Amendment, and the real question is if those that have only done half their job will have the political courage to stand by and for constituents on preventing abuses before they occur.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez
Candidate for the NY-22 Congressional seat, 2014

2014 State of the Union Address: review

There is so much that can be said of the 2014 State of the Union Address, but highlights will have to suffice. Of the major themes covered in the speech there were some glaring statements and omissions, obvious pivots to promote Dems in the 2014 mid-term elections, promises of overreach of power by the Executive Branch, and suppression of debate and disagreement on critical issues.

Of the things omitted, or largely glossed over, was the repeated insistence on Government driven infrastructure jobs. This was the first Address to not feature – in one catchphrase format or another – a push on the “shovel-ready jobs” that never materialized. At the same time, there was a muted and glancing look at renewable energy – with a focus only on solar energy and a noted absence of Ethanol, wind power, and green companies that have repeatedly filed for bankruptcy on the public tab.

Returning to the spotlight, for only the 2nd time since 2012, there was a renewed push to target the tax code reform. On a more muted level there was a suggestion of cutting corporate tax rates. Once again this bipartisan issue only appears as votes are needed in an election year. Once again, no directive or leadership was offered on an issue that is directly impacting the economy.

Yet again immigration reform was suggested. A comprehensive legislation that failed to draw attention from Dems when they controlled a super-majority and could have passed any legislation they wanted. A reform offered by Dems that negates the concerns and proposals from Republicans. A legislation that failed to gain ground in 2013, and has poor prospects for 2014.

President Obama tried to take credit for a lower unemployment rate, while ignoring the fact that millions remain consistently un- or under-employed. He negated the fact that one of the factors reducing the unemployment rate is not job creation, but the increase in the number of people the Government no longer counts (such as the most recent December 2013 failure to count 400,000 that do not have jobs).

Of course President Obama focused on issues that are focused in rallying Dems to vote in the mid-term election – to balance off the failure of Obamacare, and the scandals that has plagued his Administration.

President Obama demanded that Congress not debate the size of Government. To paraphrase ‘Don’t argue the size of Government, it is a distraction to the job of Congress.’ Yet this is one of the major ideological issues that defines the distinction between modern Dems and Republicans. To stifle debate is to hinder the 1st Amendment rights of the constituents Republicans reflect.

President Obama pushed minimum wage increases. An issue that affects only 2% of the workforce, and has been shown in various studies to do as much damage as help for the very people it targets. A poor deflection of the lack of jobs throughout the nation, 3 years well into the economic recovery.

In another play towards the troubled base of Democrats, women were the target of preference. Once again the difference in pay was used to gain support. Once again women were used as a crutch to justify Obamacare – while negating the far reaching problems of imposing maternity care on men and the elderly that will never have a need for the coverage and will bear the burden of the higher costs of healthcare.

President Obama even glossed over a key problem with Obamacare – the “just in time” effect where those who have not paid into health insurance, who will not share a fair burden of healthcare costs, will overnight gain healthcare just to take care of costly procedures. It’s this “just in time” impact that has caused fear among insurance companies, and caused speculation of widespread damage to the American economy as a result.

Most of all, it must be noted that the President focused repeatedly on the overreach of Executive Orders to circumvent Congress and to restrict debate on issues that Democrats has failed to sell the American people on. Action that Senator Obama opposed, and are strictly prohibited from the power of the Executive Branch.

President Obama brushed aside the concern over the size, and therefore the power of Government – even as the abuses of the IRS and NSA still impact the daily lives of Americans.

President Obama unilaterally shut the debate on “climate change.” Stating that it is a fact, without addressing the on-going debate among scientists, President Obama noted how America lead the world in reduction in carbon emissions. He failed to connect the dots to the fact that by his own admission, with global leadership, the impact as he views it was legible – if in fact it is possible to alter the trends our planet has cycled through for millions of years.

President Obama negated as non-existent all ideas from Republicans that do not match his own political agenda – even where they are actually the most effective ideas to achieve the goals he has promised the public were critical to success.

The president was cheered for implementing the very outcome described by Senator McCain in 2008 on troops in Afghanistan. He tried to create a moral imperative to blindly follow his political views by demonizing anyone who opposes his views on what citizenship should entail and require.

All of this, to the tune of 30 rounds of applause – the greatest of which went an Army Corporal who served his nation in a war that President Obama wanted to fight – while Democrats have sought (in a bad deal with some Republicans) to increase debt spending and cut military pensions.

Overall, the 2014 State of the Union Address was a muted, humbled, expression of the result of years of failure. Jobs remain a critical problem without solution. Obamacare has created more uninsured Americans than it has insured while destabilizing the health care markets and increased costs. American foreign policy has been shown to be fractured, ineffective, and a source of embarrassment for the nation. Relations with our allies have been weakened by the very NSA that the President continues to defend as he ignores the recommendations of yet another commission he had created.

2014 is the first year of the lame duck presidency, fueled by a near inevitable wave of losses in congressional seats by Democrats in the mid-term elections. The State of the Union was less a rally call to America, but a feeble defense of the failure of a President that asked for more time, got it, and still has nothing positive to show for it.

6.8% Unemployment – another rose colored report

Today the unemployment report came out and and shocked everyone. The drop in the unemployment rate was unexpected by all estimates from analysts, and flies in the face of the mere 74,000 jobs that were added in December 2013.

The growth in the population means that on average 200,000 jobs need to be added each month just to keep even. When that target is missed generally unemployment is increasing. When it is exceeded the unemployment rate drops. But like most things Government, that isn’t how this works.

The unemployment rate is also adjusted for the participation rate – the number of people working and thus paying taxes in the nation. The lower the participation rate, the fewer people working, paying taxes, and therefore counting in the headline grabbing number. December 2013 had a participation rate of 62.8% – a low that goes back to the stagflation days of 1978 and the Carter presidency.

Since November 2008 there has been a continuous decrease in the number of people working in the nation. In that time there has been a drop of 3.1% in the participation rate, with no signs of improvement in the BLS data [http://www.bls.gov]. Yet, with a lower participation rate, the unemployment figure has decreased in December 2013 – because 400,000 people just don’t count anymore.

It’s one of the oddball ways of government math, that allows a situation to get worse. Yet headlines will show improvement and politicians will seek to rally around the headline, counting on the general public to abandon the facts. All things being equal, unemployment has not improved greatly since the 2008 recession, as more and more Americans simply stopped being counted as in the workforce. A similar surprising gap in unemployment figures occurred when the rate went to 9% on February 2011 and 7.7% on March 2013.

Don’t be surprised when the poverty rate, and the number of Americans receiving Government benefits increases. The people still exist, even if they don’t count for this set of figures. They may not be getting an unemployment check, but without work they are still in need and the Government will provide. But don’t forget, as President Obama has made clear at least 15 times since he was elected, jobs are priority #1. But if your focus is STEM jobs [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] fear not, as HR 2131 is being pushed by Rep. Richard Hanna of the NY-22 and will ensure 160,000 STEM jobs will go to foreigners.

With the help of these and other politicians, the unemployment rate is sure to hit 6% sooner than later. Sadly, it will likely have minimal impact on the number of people without work in America.

Congratulations Rep. Hanna on top 25 wealthiest in House again

I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate Rep. Hanna on the success he has achieved since being elected to the House of Representatives. Each year since 2010 Rep Hanna has made the cut for the top 25 richest Representatives.

In 2010, Rep. Hanna was ranked 18th out of 435 Representatives, with a net worth estimated to be no less than $13.8 million. But competition in Congress is fierce, and in 2011 Rep. Hanna felt the pinch. His estimated minimum net worth dropped to $13.7 million, and he fell to only the 23rd most wealthy of all 435 Representatives.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)


Still that minor setback did not impede the success that would come. Because in 2012, the last full year that data is available on, Rep. Hanna had a minimum net worth of $14.4 million, an increase of $700,000 (though he fell another spot to just the 24th wealthiest Representative).

To give some perspective, from 2010 to 2012 the average household income changed [U.S. Census]:

the poorest 20% – increased $599
Next 20% – increased $1,764
Middle – increased $3,082
Next 20% – increased $4,065
Top 20% (rich) – increased $10,671

Put another way, the median household income, just for New York State, was $47,600. That was down from 2010 and 2011 income levels.

Rep. Hanna overcame the negative pressures from New York State Government, and a sluggish (at best) economy, to outpace the average American household and retain a position in the top 6% of the House of Representatives, even as Congress reached an 8% approval rating.

At the same time, Rep. Hanna’s efforts of 3 years have resulted in potentially 2,000 jobs for NY State by bringing drone testing to our State – of course without any legislation to prevent abuse of drone use by the same Government that allowed the NSA scandal to occur.

Plus, Rep. Hanna is promoting HR 2131, the SKILLS Visa Act, which will give 160,000 STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] jobs to foreigners.

Lastly, he voted for the Ryan-Murray budget deal, that will cut Veteran pensions and increases Federal debt spending.

Rep. Hanna has been busy, and in 2014 you can re-elect him. Or you could visit www.MichaelVasquezforCongress.com and consider a different option in the mid-term elections.

Press release – 1/6/14 – Unmanned aircraft coming to New York

On Jan. 6, 2014, Rep. Hanna announced that as part of his efforts in the Drone Caucus, Griffis International Airport in Rome, NY will become a testing site for unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones.

Image of potential private drone abuses

The deal also involves drones in Massachusetts, and between the 2 States a total of $700 million in tax revenues are projected to be raised, over an unspecified time period. Estimates are that some 1300 jobs will be created throughout New York due to this deal.

Michael Vasquez, candidate for the NY 22nd Congressional District of which Rome, NY is part of, commented on the news,

“I am always happy to hear of opportunities to create jobs in New York, especially in the NY-22. We need to bring in new industries to help the State shed the title of least business friendly in the nation, while helping our nation as well as our constituents.

Still, I hesitate only in the fact that the rush to create 1300 jobs via drones, less than a tenth of a percent of the State unemployment, is not accompanied by responsible legislation to ensure that the use of drones is not abused as we have seen is the case with many Government agencies lately.”

Candidate Vasquez went on to state,

“While I commend the Drone Caucus for its efforts to bring decent wage jobs to Americans that are needed, as most of the NY-22 is in need of, the failure to create legislation over the past 3 years to ensure the privacy and 4th Amendment rights of those same Americans is a mission only half-done, in my opinion.”

To date there has been no legislation passed that addresses the use of drones domestically, and no legislation sponsored by Rep. Hanna to address this concern. Ryan Calo (assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law) has said, “There’s very little in American privacy law that would limit the use of drones for surveillance.”

2013 rewind: The interviews of NY-22 candidate Michael Vasquez and the media

The following are all the media interviews we have recorded of every interview with the media and New York 22nd Congressional candidate Michael Vasquez.

The videos are listed in chronological order from the exploratory committee in April 2013 through the official announcement of a run for Congress in November 2013, up until the end of the year.

Exploratory Committee

WBGH -

April 2013

YNN –

April 2013

WNBF -

August 2013 – part 1

August 2013 – part 2

*********************************************************************************************************************
Announced run for 2014 NY 22nd Congressional seat

WICZ –

November 2013

WKTV –

November 2013

WNBF –

November 2013 – Part 1

November 2013 – Part 2

WUTQ –

November 2013

WBGH –

December 2013

Exceptional Conservative Show with Ken McClenton (D.C. based) -

December 2013 – Part 1

December 2013 – Part 2

Internet and Newspaper articles/interviews for 2013 include: Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, Herkimer Evening Telegram, Houston Conservative Examiner, Ithacajournal.com, Utica Observer-Dispatch and others.

To learn more about NY congressional candidate Michael Vasquez, and/or to lend your support, please visit www.MichaelVasquezforCongress.com.

Rep. Hanna’s 2013 report card – a more realistic review

At the end of 2013 my opponent for the NY 22nd Congressional district, the incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna, released a summary of his efforts in Congress as a show of his dedication to the concerns of constituents. It’s a great gesture, but if looked at in context it is just a gesture.

Let me explain.

In the middle of page 3, right after the table of contents, a “snapshot of 2013 by-the-numbers” is presented. In the very first item, my point is made explicitly clear –

174 public Vote Explanations posted on Facebook, Twitter and Hanna.House.Gov

This is a lie, and I dare Rep. Hanna to sue me because I’m right. The total is 175. Because Rep. Hanna removed one of his public statements. Specifically How I voted on HR 2397 – which now comes up with a 404 error if you search for it.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

Why is it missing and unaccounted for? Because in that article, published at 8:30 AM on July 25th, Rep. Hanna stated that he voted to protect the public from the abuses of the NSA. That statement flies in the face of his actual vote on July 24th – against the Amash Amendment which would have protected the public from NSA abuses.

Thus, since the full unedited original article has yet to be placed back into the record, I am led to believe Rep. Hanna is actively hiding his record from the public on an issue constituents are very concerned about. A record that isn’t always in the interest, or even good faith, of what the people he was elected to represent wanted and believe, I am led to conclude.

I say this directly, Rep. Hanna, if a word of what I have just said is untrue – sue me and I will exit the race for Congress.

You can decide for yourself what you make of this shell-game with the facts. But moving on.

On page 3, and elsewhere in the document, Rep. Hanna takes great pains to highlight the 9 Bills and resolutions he sponsored, as well as the 216 he co-sponsored. What my opponent fails to note, and hopes voters won’t notice, is what he does not include in the snapshot or the document… the number of Bills and/or Resolutions he had pass in the House of Representatives, let alone become law. An omission based on the failure to actually succeed since being elected in 2010.

My opponent paints a happy picture of the status on HR 2310 – a Bill that would provide headstones for Reservists that have died in combat for this nation. A Bill that is frozen in Congress and will likely never become law. Even though the cost is negligible, it is a bi-partisan issue, it is supported by veterans and the public, and there are 89 current members of Congress that are former military that would never dare vote against this Bill. Oh, and only 5 members of Congress, that are former military, support this Bill.

Which brings up the question of why? Has my opponent presented this to them? If not he is being inefficient, if he has then he is ineffective for the reasons why this Bill has universal appeal already stated.

There are other such examples, like H Res 134 (condemning North Korea) and H Res 190 (condemning the Boston Marathon bombing), each of which failed to garner support though there is universal bipartisan support for the issues addressed. Again, were these resolutions with less than 10% support framed a successes because the question of effectiveness and efficiency would be asked – and a shrewd politician obfuscates any question that might cause them to lose votes, no matter how true?

On page 4 of the report card, my opponent then makes this statement

“It is clear that in many ways Washington is broken as 2013 draws to a close. I am pleased to report that your office is not.”

Inefficiency, ineffectiveness, lack of representation of the voters and public in the 22nd District are not examples of a broken elected “office”, I agree. But it is a clear indicator, in my opinion, of one that is perhaps inept. It is an example of something that needs to be corrected, as Government is broken because too many in Congress are very good politicians just like Rep. Hanna seems to be.

You may disagree, but I will press on yet again.

The report card on my opponent then goes through several pages of his biography, the mission his elected office has in Congress (working for the people – not representing them, which is not the same thing by far), a nice picture of the NY 22nd District, and the multiple Committees that my opponent sat on in one of the least trusted and approved Congresses in the history of Congress. In fact 2013 was one of the least functional Congresses ever. Which calls to question how much value sitting on multiple sub-Committees matters when the entire Congress is failing to get anything substantial done.

But I digress. Thus, eventually, the report card gets back to the point of what was actually done.

The first thing it highlights is transparency and accountability. To this it restates the factually incorrect 174 disclosures. It is amazing how in a single figure my opponent, calls into question the transparency he presents to the public and simultaneously fails to be accountable to that same public – all at the same time.

My opponent then takes pride in being ranked as one of the most Liberal Republicans in Congress in 2013. That can be also stated as one of the most Conservative Democrats, or the most Moderate, or as he states “most independent Republican” – they are all equivalent terms I believe. But independent sounds far better than what some might call an elected official that actively tries to grow the opposition Party (as Rep. Hanna did when he told women voters to join the Democrat Party).

He then pats himself on the back for job creation awards (while there are over 20 million Americans still underemployed and the participation rate is at a low of 63%), lauds himself for his NRA rating (though he failed to show up at Remington Arms when President Obama was placing gun manufacturers under siege at the beginning of 2013, though he did months after the gun restriction debate had died down), and then hypes himself on his work with STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] jobs.

Let me pause there. My opponent, the incumbent Congressman, wants to be praised for trying to pass HR 2131 – the SKILLS Visa Act – that would give 160,000 STEM jobs to foreign immigrants instead of American workers. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the NY-22, and I don’t know any who have said they support that.

Rep Hanna then moves on to talking about how many people he responded to in 2013. The numbers sound impressive, until compared to the number of people in the NY-22 (over 700,000). Plus the number seems a bit vague. How many people sent letters and request to Rep. Hanna? What is the percentage of responses? It’s not quibbling when you consider that I have talked to dozens of people who state that Rep. Hanna never responded to a single letter or request they made. Even more important to me considering that I still have not gotten any form of response from a single letter that I wrote to Rep. Hanna since 2012 – even to this day his office has not responded to me or my media company, ever. How may others received the same disregard – 100? 10,000? 100,000? My opponent avoids saying.

Finally, on page 12, my opponent notes what he actually did in Congress in 2013. He presents just 1 Bill passed, for baseball coins. But he gives equal billing, in great wording, to HR 2310, H Res 134, and H Res 190. He makes it seem like getting less than 10% support on universal, bipartisan, unopposed items is success – and perhaps in a Congress with an approval rating of 8% it is. But I tend to think the public expects more. From Congress, their Representative, and Government in general.

On page 14 my opponent starts to name all the great causes he supports. He leaves out the fact that he doesn’t mind making “symbolic votes”, as he has admitted and is available to be seen on a Youtube video of an interview he did. He leaves out his apparent rejection of Republican women. He avoids his flip-flop on late-term abortions. He all but forgets his inability to take a side about Syria. He completely disregards his multiple flip-flops on immigration, and his apparent preference (finally) to support reforms on immigration that 9 out of 10 residents of the NY 22nd Congressional District that I have spoken to do not support. He even glosses over the fact that his sudden defense of truck drivers comes more than a year after the rules were changed and several months after the rules went into effect (even though the trucking industry has been fighting this issue since 2012 amid my opponents silence on the issue).

By page 21, my opponent resorts to taking a bow for the pork-spending that endears Congress to some, and has guaranteed re-election to more than a few politicians that have been in office so long they seem to believe themselves to be a nobility (I offer the examples of Sen. Harry Reid, and Sen. Schumer, but there are dozens of others).

Of course the numbers are spread out so as to hide the very apparent bias to the northern end of the NY-22. The Southern Tier received $5 million in funds (Broome and Tioga Counties), Central NY – the middle of the District – received $6 million (Cortland and Chenango), with the north (Oswego, Herkimer, Oneida, and Madison) getting $9 million. If you take out flood relief for Central NY and the Southern Tier, which had little to do with the Congressman, the difference in actions becomes vastly apparent (almost 2-1 bias toward the northern end of the district).

My opponent of course makes room to note the obligatory shaking hands and kissing babies that is part and parcel of all politicians. 2 pages for that. My opponent then goes on to highlight 2 pages of highly selective quotes from cherry-picked news items to finish the report card.

I imagine every student in any educational institution envies the ability of Rep. Richard Hanna, like President Obama, to create their own report card and grading system.

With all honesty I cannot say that my opponent was a complete failure in 2013. He did accomplish some goals that constituents wanted. There were some issues that he could do nothing about (though he could have said far more in my opinion – like Syria, abuse of Executive Orders, overreach of the NSA and IRS, ect). But that does not excuse or even equal the things that he did have control over and failed on.

If we were to be fair, and I am trying my best to be objective though he is my opponent, a true grade of the overall performance in 2013 would be a D+. Transparency and Accountability would be an F-. Effectiveness would be a D+. Efficiency would be a D+. Consistency would be a F-. Leadership would be a D. Responsiveness (to the political ramifications) would be a shining star with a C. Deficit spending would be a B-. Flip-flopping would be an A+.

At the end of the day what will this all mean? That is for voters to decide. But I believe, if voters look at the whole picture – at what is being omitted and hidden, what was done and what was calculated for political gain, what has been done in the name of the NY-22 that fails to reflect the views of the people of the NY-22 – then I believe 2014 will see my opponent, Rep. Hanna, fail to graduate.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez

2014 starts with a jolt of legal decisions

Mere hours into the start of 2014 and already there have been legal outcomes that are going to affect millions of Americans. Some will be happy, but assuredly not all. Yet, to varying degrees, all of these decisions will affect the nation. Considering that 2014 is a mid-term election year, these legal actions and their results – as well as other issues – demand that we ask ourselves 3 questions (which I will ask at the end of this article).

Starting in New York, the controversial NY SAFE Act was ruled as constitutional by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny in Buffalo. At the same time, Judge Skretny also ruled that the limitations on magazines (to contain 7 rounds maximum),

“…fails the relevant test because the purported link between the ban and the state’s interest is tenuous, strained, and unsupported in the record.”

The NY Safe Act has been seen as a model of what President Obama has been pushing to have Congress enact nationally – and part of his Executive Orders issued in 2013, circumventing Congress. The argument being that in restricting certain types of firearms the ability of the criminal and criminally insane to engage in mass shootings will be diminished (though VP Biden admitted in February 2013 that the Executive Orders will have no impact – which was sadly proven correct later that same year). This flies in the face of the fact that the overwhelming majority of shooting deaths occur with handguns (like the Binghamton Civic Center shooting) and the 2003 First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws which determined,

“The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”

As well as the overall result of a gun restriction ban of “assault” firearms I reviewed in an investigation of the data over 30 years in an article Jan 11, 2013,

“…if the movement for gun restrictions as the primary safeguard to the public are correct, 75% of these kinds of tragedies will continue relatively unabated. Is the battle being waged against the 2nd Amendment, as some claim, and opposition like the NRA worth potentially stopping 1 – 2 events per year? To the families that have lost a loved one, of course. But if we are trying to increase the safety of the nation, shouldn’t the focus be on what is motivating the majority of these hateful crimes? Shouldn’t the resources be poured in to finding the root cause and eliminating it?”

As I have stated before, the delusion of safety by restricting certain arbitrary definitions of “assault weapons” and reducing magazine size is both misleading and unequal to the infringement on 2nd Amendment Rights. I agree with Judge Skretny that the magazine ban is unsupported and tenuous, as I presented in an article published on March 13, 2013

“… actively misleading the public into a false sense of safety based on pipe dreams and wishful thinking is as dangerous as any firearm ever made. We must also clearly state that using a preposterous fallacy meant to target the fear and emotion of the public to enact a politically motivated outcome is a tactic more akin to those wishing to shackle freedom than embracing or protecting it.”

Surely the debate over the NY Safe Act is not over, and will reach higher courts. Other States and the Federal Government will be watching closely, with a slew of laws to follow the ultimate outcome. Whether or not this has any effect on mass shootings is debatable, and historically leans towards being ineffective. But the impact on the 2nd Amendment may be irreversible.

On a larger scale, also on January 1, 2014, there is the news that the Government has been blocked in forcing the birth control requirement of the Obamacare law. US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor enacted an injunction in the late hours of Dec 31 2013, that prevents enforcement of this provision of the law. The reason is the infringement of religious freedom that is being argued Obamacare restricts.

This is yet another factor that is adding to the obtuse and ever more convoluted impact of the Affordable Care Act. With each passing month more groups and classes of those required to be affected by Obamacare are being delayed or excluded from inclusion. This of course alters the projected mix of population that healthcare insurers have calculated into premiums, and projections of an increase in costs continue to become more reliable.

This is yet another example of the rushed and poorly thought out ramifications of the Affordable Care Act long-term. It may well be just another factor that helps to establish that Obamacare will fail in its purported primary mission of reducing health care costs. The full impact of cancellations, the massive and still existing problems with the Healthcare.gov website, the yet to be determined inclusion of businesses (or their decisions to opt-out of providing healthcare), and the less than projected sign up of millions of Americans as well as other provisions of the law have yet to be felt in earnest.

It is fair to say that as courts address the underlying components of Obamacare, and those excluded are mandated to be included in the wide berth of the law, the reality of what this law will mean to freedoms and costs will be seen later in the year. I hold little hope of clarity or price reductions.

Lastly there was the decision in Florida, by Judge Mary S. Scriven of the United States District Court in Orlando, to strike down the requirement of drug screening for those seeking welfare.

Judge Scriven stated,

“The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”

This of course will impact many States (29 States have considered such laws and 9 have enacted similar laws) as there is a growing view in the populace (who themselves are faced with drug tests to be employed) that such a requirement is valid and worthwhile. Many feel that those seeking public assistance should be held to the same standards as those paying for the assistance via their taxes (which I agree with). In addition, supporters point to the safety and welfare of the households where drug use does exist, that can potentially be aided by the enforcement of these drug tests as a condition of public aide.

At the core of this argument is National Treasury Employees Union v. von Raab., US Supreme Court, 1989. This was the case that the Supreme Court reviewed and upheld that drug testing of Federal employees was constitutional. This lead to the widespread use of drug testing as a requirement in the private sector.

I believe that the Supreme Court decision explains why drug testing of welfare applicants is valid – though the ruling had no private sector applications at the time. [emphasis added]

“Petitioners’ contention that the testing program is unreasonable because it is not based on a belief that testing will reveal any drug use by covered employees evinces an unduly narrow view of the context in which the program was implemented. Although it was not motivated by any perceived drug problem among Service employees, the program is nevertheless justified by the extraordinary safety and national security hazards that would attend the promotion of drug users to the sensitive positions in question. Moreover, the mere circumstance that all but a few of the employees tested are innocent does not impugn the program’s [489 U.S. 656, 658] validity, since it is designed to prevent the substantial harm that could be caused by the promotion of drug users as much as it is designed to detect actual drug use. Pp. 673-675.”

If you substitute “Welfare recipient” for “service employee” and remove “national security hazards” – almost the the same way that the private sector has done in its interpretation of the law to require drug testing – the reasoning remains intact. Thus the law, in my non-attorney opinion, is a valid law and Judge Scriven is wrong.

As 2014 moves forward, and the number of those seeking public assistance increases (as has been the trend) – placing an ever larger burden on States and the taxes of residents of those States – there will be more focus on this ruling by the Supreme Court and how it applies to the private sector as well as those seeking public assistance.

As a result of all 3 of these events, as well as many more issues, the nation will face tough decisions in 2014. Decisions that will affect the economy, freedoms, and pursuit of happiness of all Americans to some degree or another. The questions that I ask you are simple.

  • Where does your elected politicians stand on these important issues?
  • Is the position they hold the one that you (and a majority of constituent) have?
  • If it is not, why did you elect that politician?

    These 3 questions are the core reason of why I am running for the New York 22nd Congressional District seat in 2014. Many other politicians will be up for election in the mid-terms this year. But the key to re-election, in my opinion, should be the answer to these 3 questions – as opposed to the campaign promises and 30 second polispeak ads that are sure to fill airwaves.

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