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The real barrier to immigration reform

In the March 2nd article, New York’s GOP House members patient on immigration reform – by Brian Tumulty, one of the greatest hurdles to immigration reform – and multiple other issues facing our nation – was revealed in a simple statement. The problem is not a question of amnesty for illegal aliens, though that is an important issue that must be dealt with, but an issue that is even bigger and more problematic. A lack of decisiveness and clarity.

In a nation of some 310 million people, that are from every corner of the world, every religion in the world, every anything in the world, there will always be disagreement whenever there is a choice to be made. Part of the job of our elected politicians is to represent and reflect the overall views and ideals of the constituents that elected them. It is also the obligation of the politicians, especially on the Federal level, to present the issues to the public – with their understanding of what is the best choices of action, so that the people can then offer the direction they believe is best for our nation. This is integral to our Government functioning.

This critical system of checks and balance, of the power of the people, fails as voter apathy grows. In the absence of the voice of the people, political parties and special interest groups assert more influence and politicians tend to act first and then dictate that decision to the public.

The flipside of this is in ways worse – the politician fails to take a position and fails to provide guidance to the constituents. The result is generally a last minute decision, based solely on the projected impact on the re-election benefits and detractions for that incumbent.

Both of these things remove the connection of Government and the people, increasing the voter apathy, and creating a self-fulfilling loop of poor leadership, distrust of the Government, and a nation that ultimately follows the wrong path.

Case in point is the abovementioned article. Of the 4 Republicans comments on the issue of immigration reform, only 1 lacked an actual position. Whether or not constituents agree with the positions of 3 of the Republican Representatives is up to them, and in having a position a discourse on what is the right decision for the nation can evolve. But when there is no position, there is no real discussion.

Or, taken from another viewpoint, the Representative without opinion on a critical and sensitive national issue that has been under debate for decades may well disregard the voice and opinion of his constituents to appease whatever special interest makes the best argument. This is NOT how our system is set up.

Rep. Richard Hanna said,

“I honestly haven’t thought about it, and it is a complicated issue. I am on the record multiple times to have immigration reform brought to the floor.”

What does that mean? How does that reflect, in any manner, the opinions and voice of ANY of the constituents in the NY 22nd Congressional District?

Some might be amazed that an incumbent, especially one seeking re-election, would admit they have no opinion on a hot-button, national issue. Some might be concerned that an incumbent, who has many constituents that will be directly affected by any reform, would fail to consider regularly the pros and cons of such a major issue. Others will reflect that such an answer is a perfect position for a politician seeking re-election – as it allows the incumbent to pivot to whatever answer will provide the most votes, and still vote in almost any manner when the time comes.

The NY-22, and the nation, deserve better from our elected Representatives. We deserve clear and concise answers, backed-up by whatever logic the politician has. With luck, given the nature of politicians these days, it should even be a position consistent with what the politician has stated in the past. With extreme luck, it will also be a position that the voters themselves hold.

My opponent may, or may not, be aware that most people I have spoken to in the NY-22 want an immigration reform that will provide farmers with a predictable and definitive workforce, shows compassion for the children of illegal aliens who have no choice in the actions of their parents, and yet holds consequences for willingly violating the law of the land.

A comprehensive immigration reform, for the voters of the NY 22nd Congressional District, must therefore impose a penalty for breaking the law, in addition to NOT providing amnesty, while improving the immigration system for the future.

I have stated before, I believe that any immigration reform should include a $1,000/year fine, require that all illegal aliens currently in the U.S. must register and be placed at the end of the waiting list to become citizens, and that they cannot have any felonies – before or during this process. Most importantly, any legislation should directly state that this act of forgoing further legal incarceration or deportation, under these terms, is a 1 time event and will not be repeated in the future – thus discouraging future illegal aliens from trying to wait out the public patience.

Not everyone will agree with this solution. But that is ok, as it creates an opportunity for debate and discussion among the public. A dialogue allows for the best compromise, legislation that encompasses a respect for the law, the compassion of the American people, and the concerns of business as well as illegal aliens seeking a better future for themselves and their families.

An answer that fails to take a position, whatever that position may be, is sure to be good for re-election bids, but miserably fail to represent even the most slim proportion of constituents.

The failure on immigration is not that there are political sides to the issue, or that there is disagreement on the best course forward. The failure is that too many politicians are jockeying for re-election and failing to take any side – negating the potential for compromise and devaluing the people being represented.

Political position cards

Starting March 4th, across New York State, candidates and incumbents will be going out and getting signatures to appear on the June 24th ballot. These signatures will set the tone of what will be discussed during the Primary, if anything at all. In many cases, like the NY-22, whomever wins the Primary will likely be the winner of the November election.

This is a big deal. The only way to improve Congress is by first discussing the issues that are on the minds of the public. That can only happen if there are challengers. Then the public can hear about the solutions to the problems we all feel every day. Considering how ineffective Congress has been, and how many members of Congress have flip-flop their positions and/or voted against the will of constituents, the Primary is the only real means to replace these would-be nobles.

Starting March 4th supporters, volunteers, and I will be going out and getting signatures to make sure the issues you care about are presented in the Primary – and you get an honest choice at the voting booth in June. The following political position cards will be carried by my supporters and volunteers – so you can know where I stand, and why I am running for the NY 22nd Congressional seat:

Vasquez political position cards

Political position cards for the Michael Vasquez for Congress campaign

M Vasquez political position cards

Political position cards for the Michael Vasquez for Congress campaign

Let’s fix Congress. Let’s get America back on the right track. You have already taken the first step reading this far. If you agree with my positions, and want to hear more – and believe that the public deserves to hear all options available – then contact us about signing a petition. Share this with friends, please.

Or, if you think the nation is doing just fine, do nothing and be guaranteed that you will get more of the same that we all agree isn’t working.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez
Candidate for the NY 22nd Congressional District, 2014
info@ElectMichaelVasquez.com

Is representing the NY-22 extreme or just right?

Recently I had the chance to read an article by Gino Geruntino, of WRVO. The article, Hanna prepares for primary day challengers, covers the thoughts of my opponent as we enter the petition season (starting March 4th) as the heat of the primary begins to build.

The thing that really caught my attention was the allusion made that I am an extremist. My opponent said

“We try to be transparent, we try to be balanced, and we try desperately to represent the 700,000-plus people,” Hanna said. “Not the fringes, not the extremes, not the special interest people who are so loud and vocal, but all the people of this district.”

That statement was interesting. It is both a way to try to deflect my objections to some of the votes and Bills my opponent has supported, and at the same time a hope to minimize any impact I may be creating. It’s smart politics, and done in a nice deferential manner that keeps the smack from stinging too much. But I think my opponent misjudges the people of the NY-22.

When my opponent says he does not represent “the fringes, not the extremes” what does he mean? Does he mean Conservatives? Republicans? Independents?

The majority of Americans (63.2%) believe America is on the wrong track. That’s everyone. A pretty extreme consensus. 81% disapproving of Congress is even more extreme, by the thinking of some.

Perhaps, in the mind of a moderate who won election on a wave of conservativism, it is fringe to expect Congress to be fiscally responsible. It is far too common to hear regular non-political people ask why Congress can’t balance a budget just like they have to. The rage of the masses, in the NY-22 and across the nation, was clearly heard when military pensions were the first target of cuts – as if the Government couldn’t possible find any other source of waste or excessive spending to cut first. All without the moderate voices making any noise in opposition and defense of the masses.

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But I do not deny I am loud and vocal. For the better part of a decade I have spoken out about the issues and problems facing this nation. About the choices in elections from the local to the presidential. About the Rights and Freedoms that are under attack from an Executive Branch that believes it can re-write our legislative foundation, while the least Conservative or Republican cheer on the change.

As for special interests, I don’t have any – except if you mean the public at large. The public is the voting group that has seen the least connection with Congress. They are the ones who suffer from the mishandled website launches and canceled policies, and the abuses from Government agencies that are invading the privacy of the average American – which could have been addressed by legislation that many more moderate members of Congress chose not to support. In fact, the public at large will feel the impact of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs given to foreigners and drones spying on innocents because the more moderate in Congress were supporting big business instead of mom and pop, in my opinion.

So, when I am called an “extremist”, I can only ask what I am being compared to, because moderation at Thanksgiving dinner is great but not when it comes to the freedom and well-being of the American people.

But that is my opinion on that.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez
Candidate for the NY 22nd Congressional District, 2014

Press release – 2/19/14 – Response to Broome County GOP endorsement

On Feb 18th Broome County GOP Chairman Bijoy Data announced the endorsement of Rep. Richard Hanna in the 2014 Congressional race. What Chairman Data failed to tell the public was that they made this decisions with blatant disregard for the choices available.

Broome County GOP has received no less than 12 attempts to contact them since April 2013. That includes mail, email, phone call messages, and visits to their office on Court Street Binghamton. It also includes direct statements from members of the Broome GOP, clearly indicating that candidate Michael Vasquez merely wished to speak about why he is running and what he hopes to offer constituents.

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Mr. Vasquez has presented his reasons for running to virtually all GOP and Conservative Party committees, or is scheduled to do so, in the Counties of the New York 22nd District. Only Broome, and so far Oneida County, have failed to extend this courtesy, and denied the public a viable choice for 2014.

Mr. Vasquez stated,

“While I respect the choice made to endorse my opponent, I believe that the failure to even hear what concerns I and many members of the GOP and public have is a serious error on the part of Broome and Oneida County. The public has a right to be presented options, and to make a choice on who can best provide the accountability and consistency that is missing in Congress today.”

Mr. Vasquez went on to say,

“I thank Chairman Data for contacting me, after making a unilateral endorsement without firsthand knowledge and after I spoke about his decision to the news media earlier today. I am continuing my well-received efforts to challenge, and beat, my opponent for a host of reasons that I believe are well publicized by the national media and known by constituents in the NY-22.”

March starts the petition season for Congress and 1250 signatures are needed for the Republican ballot. 321 signatures are needed, as well as the endorsement of the Conservative Party that has pulled support from Rep. Hanna since 2012, for the Conservative ballot. The campaign of Michael Vasquez for Congress feels very confident that they will garner more than enough signatures to be on the ballots.

Press release – 2/11/14 – Debt ceiling passed ‘clean’

With an abruptness rarely seen in fiscal debates over the past several years, the House of Representatives passed a “clean” debt ceiling increase that will negate the need for further discussion on the issue until 2015. The Bill passed with only 28 Republican votes, and all but 10 Democrats.

Of the 28 votes that came from Republicans, Rep. Richard Hanna was again among those that broke from the main voice of Republicans – as he did in October and since. In fact his separation from the main body of Republicans in the House has gained traction in much of the mainstream media that are now correctly labeling Rep. Hanna as a moderate – as opposed to his “conservative” stance that enabled his election to Congress in 2010.

meet and greet in Vestal NY, at home of attorney James Sacco

coffee and doughnuts meet and greet in Vestal NY

NY-22 candidate Michael Vasquez had this statement on the vote,

“It is a shame to see that the debt ceiling passed in the manner it has. Not only does this vote stall the previous slight move towards accountability and responsibility with regard to the national debt, as there is no limit to the amount of increased debt that the nation can attain with this Bill, but by is vagaries it reverses that budding trend.”

Candidate Vasquez went on to say,

“If the apparent abandonment of fiscal responsibility were not enough, the salt in the wound is the continued existence of military pension cuts – sure to affect constituents of the NY-22 around Fort Drum (Herkimer County) and retirees from Griffiss Air Force Base (now under civilian use as Griffiss International Airport – Onieda County) as well as vets across the rest of the District. Our military retirees deserve better than the targeted attack on their benefits, that this ‘clean’ debt ceiling deal apparently cements in place. I would not have voted for this ‘clean’ Bill.”

The cut in military pensions was part of the Ryan-Murray budget deal enacted at the beginning of the year. That deal immediately increased Government spending by $63 billion, as opposed to the $43 billion saved via the Sequester requirements of 2013. To pay for that increased spending, in part, military pensions were targeted. Rep. Hanna was among those that voted for this deal.

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

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.

  • Is an election a question of looking tough?

    On December 19th, Rep. Richard Hanna traveled to Chenango County and visited the Wesson gun manufacturing facility south of Norwich, NY. The move was more than just routine.

    I don’t question that Rep. Hanna believes in the 2nd Amendment, nor that he has spoken out against the NY Safe Act. These are positions that most Conservatives hold, and in as much as Rep. Hanna can be believed to be firm on any issue given his numerous flip-flops and “symbolic” votes, I accept his stated convictions.

    The thing that troubles me about this is the photo-op. Here is the photo from CNY News

    CNY News photo

    So why does this bug me?

    I get that Rep. Hanna wants to be seen as a everyday man – though he is a millionaire businessman and a member of Congress that regularly votes against Conservative positions (immigration, abortion, as well as NSA and drones). I get that he is trying to secure his position with the gun lobby, NRA, and voters that believe the 2nd Amendment is under attack (which I agree it is). That’s the purpose of the visit and the photo.

    But I find it annoying that a Representative, that didn’t bother to visit Wesson or Remington in the beginning of 2013 when President Obama was issuing 23 Executive Orders to restrict gun ownership, is using the image as if the public didn’t notice his relative silence. I find it annoying that he is taking time to visit a County he rarely has shown any concern about prior to coming under challenge for the 2014 election.

    Call me shallow, but when it comes to gun restrictions I expect a Representative to do more than say that protecting Remington Arms is only about jobs. I expect a Representative that stands for the 2nd Amendment to have a firm opinion why Executive Orders limiting freedoms is wrong and not to say,

    “I want to talk about it. No, I don’t have an opinion about it just yet.” – January 13, 2013

    Most of all, I don’t want a Representative that works at looking tough in a photo with a few firearms in the foreground in an article with no real content – essentially just a fluff piece to tout him as an advocate to a specific group of voters, in my opinion.

    I’d rather a Representative that can actually fight to get a bipartisan politically neutral Bill like HR 2310 (which helps provide gravestones to Reservists that gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life to this nation) get passed – or at the very least supported by the 89 members of Congress that are all former military, which does not include Rep. Hanna who never served in the military in any capacity. Currently it is supported by 5 former members of the military, and I wonder why its so few?

    But maybe winning the primary in 2014 and going to Congress to actually represent the voice of the NY-22 is all about good photo ops, as is the example Rep. Hanna is making apparently. Perhaps, if Rep. Hanna were an example to be followed, all it takes is a photo that makes a candidate look tough. In that case, all I have to offer is this…

    USMC 1987

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