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Our future, our voices, and your vote

justice
There is nothing quite like political predictions. Whether it’s Sarah Palin talking about Russia in 2008, or numerous Republicans and pundits talking about the retreat from Iraq in 2011, or even the polling for former Congressman Eric Cantor political predictions are always a matter of intense debate and attention. With the Republican Primary for the New York 22nd congressional district less than a week away, it seemed a good time to review the predictions made in this race.

One of the first things that should be noted is money. The first barrier to the race, mentioned in every meeting and many public speaking engagements that I had from April 2013 until I voluntarily exited the race to support Claudia Tenney. As many have heard me say, my predictions were:

  • 1) Rep. Hanna will spend 10-1 for his effort to get re-elected
  • 2) The race can be won by a challenger (implying myself at the time, and no different now) with $150,000

    Given those predictions, the reality is amazing on target.

    Rep. Hanna’s campaign, with the major help of his self-funding and a pro-gay marriage PAC, is spending $1 million on his re-election effort compared to the $111,000 of Claudia Tenney. With these figures, some estimates are calling the race even.

    The reason why I made those predictions, and why we are seeing them come true, is because Rep. Hanna is not (and I believe cannot) running on his record. He is refusing to debate because of what his voting record proves. He is avoiding presenting his record in his commercials (you can see that in my response to the Hanna’s Diner commercial – http://youtu.be/HANFCkolj5E). The public, and Republican voters, are noticing.

    Thus we have a race where Rep. Hanna has taken to mocking opponents, flippant disparaging remarks on his lack of response to challenges, and a general disregard for the will of the people who signaled their intense desire for comparison and choice when petitions were signed.

    In addition, predictions were made that this race would get national attention. As news media are now reporting, that is exactly the case.

    This race, in 2013, was considered a given for the incumbent. It was not seen as eventful. The expectation was a simple win for the incumbent based on the mere fact that he held a title and is independently wealthy. Neither of these reasons are credible reasons for anyone to be elected, let alone re-elected.

    Since that time, Rep. Hanna has revealed via his avoidance of his record, his votes for funding Obamacare, his push for immigration reform at the cost of 160,000 American jobs a year, his votes for late-term abortion, his votes to increase taxes and unlimited debt ceiling increases until 2015, Rep. Hanna has proven his liberal leaning and justified his rating as the 3rd most liberal Republican in Congress.

    This has lead to the interest of conservative groups, like an assortment of Tea Party organizations and the New York Conservative Party, the Gun Owners of America, Oathkeepers, NY Revolution and 2nd Amendment organizations, ShePAC, Fox News and more.

    That say nothing of individual conservatives like Laura Ingraham, Betsy McCaughey, Wendy Long, Carl Paladino and may others (of course including myself).

    At the same time, unexpectedly, Eric Cantor – another proponent of immigration reform like HR 2131 – lost his re-election bid to a massively outspent far more conservative opponent.

    National attention is firmly focused on this race.

    Lastly I predicted that Rep. Hanna is weak, and can be beaten.

    As I mentioned before, the Hanna campaign won’t discuss the record of a 2-term congressman in public. They won’t allow a debate on the issues and the voting record. In politics there is no greater signal of weakness.
    Which brings me to defeating Rep. Hanna. It is a reality ready to happen, needing only the active participation of Republican voters.

    There are some 160,000 Republicans in the New York 22nd District. In the past a mere fraction, less than 8000 votes, decided who would represent us in Congress. Apathy, lack of choice, the absence of a true conservative, accountable to the will of the people kept many away from voting.

    But on June 24th it can be different. There is a true choice. We have the 3rd most Conservative Assemblymember in NY State running. We have a mother of a Marine Officer, a small businesswoman, and a dedicated servant of the people available and willing to champion our causes on the floor of Congress.

    We just need to go and vote to put her there.

    I ask you, and the Republicans you know, to take a stroll on June 24th to your polling locations and take 5 minutes to vote. Make your voice heard across New York State and on the floor of Congress. Let’s, together, make a statement that money cannot buy an election, debates on the issues matter, and that re-election is a gift given only to those that have earned the privilege.

    Join me on June 24th, as we vote to elect Claudia Tenney and fulfill my final prediction.

    Sincerely

    Michael Vasquez
    Former NY 22nd Congressional District candidate
    Supporter of Claudia Tenney

  • 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.

    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.

    Meet and greet with voters and potential supporters Oct 26 2013

    I just wanted to publicly thank attorney James Sacco for putting together a meet and greet of potential supporters at his home in Vestal, NY. I also thank everyone that attended, for their time and questions about the 2014 New York Congressional election.

    It was a great night, speaking to a couple dozen voters, discussing their concerns and questions about how the representation for the New York 22nd Congressional District can be improved. The conversation covered everything from by background, experiences, and motivations; as well as where I stand on issues including immigration, the national debt, taxes, drones, the 2nd and 4th Amendment among others.

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

    coffee and doughnuts meet and greet in Vestal NY

    It was a great opportunity to hear from more of the public on what they really want to see address on the floor of Congress, and understand what they believe is not being done to represent their views currently. I continue to see a consistent theme of issues that neither Congress nor our current Representative are focused on.

    I look forward to speaking at several more meet and greets at the homes of supporters and potential supporters, as well as other events. It’s important to be connected to constituents, and this is a significant way to do so. If anyone would like to host a similar event for me to appear at, please contact me at Michael@ElectMichaelVasquez.com.

    That email can also be used for those that want to volunteer directly in helping spread the word about the 2014 NY Congressional race. Those that would like to donate $20, $50, or whatever amount up to the limit of $2600 for individuals can do so online via paypal at https://electmichaelvasquez.nationbuilder.com/donations
    or mail a check/money order made out to Friends of Michael Vasquez at PO BOX 515, Binghamton NY 13902.

    More news is coming in November!

    Sincerely

    Michael Vasquez

    August 2013 – Facebook comments

    Often there are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent formats to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, or have as open an access to these formats as the internet in general. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

    The following can be found on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ElectMichaelVasquezNY – ask to be added to my friends list to be up to date daily) from the month of August 2013:

    August 2

    I support the LIBERT E Bill – H.R. 2399. Along with 48 members of congress (Rep Hanna is not one of them) I believe that the NSA should not blanket collect US citizens phone and internet transactions. What do you think?

    H.R.2399 — LIBERT-E Act

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    If its so great and beneficial, why the exemption? Besides, isn’t Obamacare supposed to let them keep their insurance if they like it? Or was that just polispeak to cover passing the law?

    Congress: ObamaCare for thee, but not for we; Update: Boehner: Only solution is “full repeal”

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    August 4

    I could say I just want one to piss off the anti-gun people, but to be honest I really just want to own it because it’s so unique.

    SSK produces largest caliber rifle ever, one round costs same as tank of gas

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    August 7 -

    So after an hour long discussion (on my part, the other side was just going for personal attacks), it again has become clear that some people will reject all scientific proof – from State and Government sources, collected over years and rechecked – because they don’t like the answer. Then I get the threat that I won’t get their vote.

    Good. No one should vote for someone they don’t believe in. Ever. But I won’t change my views to pander to the public just to get an extra vote. That’s what I dislike in Congress and Government now. That’s why things are so screwed up.

    You don’t have to agree with me 100%, just vote for whomever you believe is sincere and honestly trying to represent the people. If we all do that, America will be better for it.

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    August 8 -

    YNN announces Cheasapeque Energy walking away from leases. With 9% unemployment, the loss of income to landowners and loss of potential business to small biz owners in Southern Tier bodes poorly for the area. The same anti frackers may be happy, until the negative economy and business unfriendliness impacts there livelihoods. But then they will blame someone else most likely.

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    August 9 -

    What happens when Congress fails it’s job and does not read laws that it passes? Cities, Counties and employers all scramble to the detriment of the public.

    “The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] would have been a hit to our budget,” says Mayor John O’Reilly [of Dearborn, MI], a Democrat. “It has imposed on us an obligation that we didn’t anticipate. I’m a supporter of the concept (of the ACA), but as we move forward and identify the unintended consequences, I’d like more flexibility.”

    Obamacare leading to part-time nation

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    For all the things President Obama said about changing the parameters of the NSA, what troubles me is what he did NOT say. Will the NSA continue to keep records already collected of tens of millions of innocent Americans? What is the NSA doing with those records? What about PRISM, which are the records of all internet actions of all Americans?

    Barack Obama FULL Press Conference: NSA Surveillance, Putin, Russia, Edward Snowden – 8/9/13

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    August 10

    As I understand it, and I am no lawyer or UMCJ expert, Article 94 – sedition, applies and is punishable by death. So does Article 104 – aiding the enemy, 166 – breach of peace, 118 (1) – murder, and Article 134. With Article 134, which covers everything, acts of terror could be addressed and charged.

    Victims angry, but experts cite legal reasons why Fort Hood shooter not charged with terror

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    August 15

    Aren’t you glad that Rep Hanna voted against restricting the NSA?

    NSA Surveillance Broke Privacy Rules Thousands Of Times Per Year: Report

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    August 19

    Let me know what you thought about the discussion with Bob Joseph today. What would be the one thing that you would ask president Obama

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    Full audio and transcript of my conversation with Bob Joseph of WNBF Talk Radio 1290 will be available later this evening.

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    Part 1 of Michael Vasquez and Bob Joseph of WNBF, discussing President Obama, fracking, Congress, and more.

    Bob Joseph of WNBF and Michael Vasquez discuss Pres Obama coming to Binghamton NY

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    Part 2 of 2 – Michael Vasquez and Bob Joseph of WNBF discuss the potential from President Obama visiting Binghamton, NY

    Michael Vasquez, Bob Joseph of WNBF discuss Pres. Obama in Binghamton

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    August 20 -

    According to the Obama Administration the NSA can violate the 4th Amendment. According to efforts by the drone caucus (which Rep Hanna is a member) unmannes aerial systems need no laws and can violate the 4th Amendment. Now, as the Washington Post reports, the Obama Administration supports warrantless cellphone searches. Maybe it’s time we get people into Congress that are willing to defend our freedoms rather than sell them on the cheap.

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    August 21 -

    So if no one is responsible for the Benghazi attack, was it just an accident or act of God? Is no one to blame as it was unforseeable or impossible to prevent? Only if pigs fly.

    Analysis: No one is being held responsible for Benghazi

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    August 22

    Why is it that when President Obama wanted change to immigration laws and gun restrictions he circumvented Congress, but for college tuition he is waiting for Congress to act. Are his convictions not as strong? Is this just a smokescreen issue meant to distract?

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    August 25

    With your donations, we can get this on TV across the 22nd Congressional District of New York. Share, Like, spread the word and don’t forget to donate whatever you can. Let’s make Congress accountable in 2014.

    Voiceover by Jimmyjohn McCabe

    NSA, 4th Amendment, and the 2014 NY election

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    August 28 –

    I’m so tired of the re-write. MLK wasn’t looking for minorities to be given jobs that didn’t exist, he was fighting for Right not to be denied a job just because a minority applied. The job still needs to be earned to be worthwhile.

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    August 29 -

    So why is Rep Hanna silent as 100 Republicans and 18 Dems agree w Senator Obama that President needs Congress approval for Syria?

    More than 100 lawmakers ask Obama to seek congressional approval on Syria strikes

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    Rep Hanna position not so surprising considering flip-flop on Libya in 2011 -

    81 Republicans Flip-Flop on Libya Opposition Votes

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    British are no go on bombing Syria. Seems they don’t see a point in doing something with no benefit to them and potential long-term negatives. Think that will sway president Obama? Not if you recall Libya.

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    August 30

    Britain has supported every military action by US that I recall, even if they didn’t like it. But on Syria they are out, and the powerhouse of France is backing us. When was the last time France won a military action? Napoleon? Is this really the only support we are getting. Shouldn’t this give pause as maybe something is wrong.

    **************************************************************************

    I think you can find the answer on what to do about Syria in the following quote from December 20, 2007…

    “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

    As commander-in-chief, the president does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”

    Barack Obama’s Q&A

    June 2013 – Facebook comments

    Often there are issues and events from day to day that there is just not enough time to expand on, or are complete in just a short message. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent formats to provide and share comments and thoughts of this nature. But not everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, or have as open an access to these formats as the internet in general. Thus, from time to time, this blog will provide several of these commentaries and musings.

    The following can be found on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ElectMichaelVasquezNY – ask to be added to my friends list to be up to date daily) from the month of June 2013:

    June 8th

    I find it interesting that even as Speaker Boehner is stating that there are issues Republicans in the House are concerned with, Rep. Hanna (NY-22) has taken both sides of the issue. He has advocated for immigration reform, visas for foreigners, and voted to deport illegal immigrants in the face of President Obama’s Executive Order. How can the border be secured, and compromise reached if some Republicans can’t even give constituents a consistent position on the issue?

    Speaker Boehner sounds off on immigration with Laura Ingraham

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    In my experience so far, speaking to young voters at Binghamton University about my exploratory committee for the NY-22, the critical factor appears to be the choices they have for their vote. From what I have heard so far, young voters feel left out and ignored – some even betrayed after 2008 and 2012 elections. Yet as I have spoken to them, they seem energized and deeply involved. So the answer is not really the specific issues, its about addressing the lack of accountability and responsiveness of elected officials currently in Congress (in both Parties).

    The GOP and young voters: A failing relationship?

    *******************************************************************************************

    I find it interesting and encouraging that like my own exploration of a run for Congress in the NY-22, Erika Harold and so many others are seeking elected office – that are not career politicians. For too long, in my opinion, there has been a disconnection (in both Parties) with constituents and the elected officials in D.C.

    The fact that, like myself, many of those seeking office in 2013 and 2014 are Republicans of diverse backgrounds and walks of life only confirms that America may finally be on the path to a better government. One that has the common sense, accountability and responsibility that voters have – which Congress has proven for decades it does not.

    Former Miss America to run for Congress as Republican

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    June 10

    Get your recording devices ready! I will be speaking with WNBF 1290 AM Bob Joseph on Wednesday 6/12 at 10:30am.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________

    June 11

    Just got invited to speak to the American for Restoring the Constitution (AFRTC) on July 15th @ 7:15pm. If you would like me to speak to your organization about improving Congress and expecting more from our Representatives, contact me or info@ElectMichaelVasquez.com

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________

    June 28 -

    first fundraiser will be on July 20th @ Daddy O’s in Endicott from 2-8. After $2000 goal we split proceeds w Wounded Warrior Project 50/50

    Pres. Obama talks NSA, Rep. Hanna visits Southern Tier, and the net result is?

    For the week August 5 – August 10, there has been no end of talk from the Executive and Legislative Branches. President Obama held a press conference on 8/4, and Rep. Richard Hanna of the NY-22 was in the Southern Tier for part of the week. But what does that all mean? What is the real result of all the bluster?

    NSA internet surveillence program known as PRISM
    Looking at President Obama’s calls to make the NSA, and intelligence agencies in general, more transparent is a welcome sign. It has only taken 2 months of public outcry to get a response from the Obama Administration. During that time the public has become aware of the massive access that the Government has to private and personal information of virtually every American in the nation without cause. In this 2 month span, Congress discussed and voted to restrict the Patriot Act section 215 as well as programs like PRISM – the Amash Amendment (H Amend 413) was defeated in a bi-partisan vote [Rep. Hanna voted against Amash].

    So President Obama, late to the issue, is now concerned about the privacy issues that he defended as “transparent” on June 17, 2013, in an interview with Charlie Rose – that was rated by the independent fact-checking source Politifact as a Pant’s On Fire lie.

    Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, is quoted in that fact-check as stating
    “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s raison d’être is to prevent any information about surveillance from being made available – much less authoritative ones,” Harper said. “I don’t know of any plausible meaning of ‘transparent’ that encompasses the ‘oversight behind closed doors’ concept.”

    But the question remains, how transparent will this sudden change of heart be? In the press conference President Obama did not address what is to become of the records already collected and stored indefinitely by the NSA. President Obama did not comment on how those records are being used, or how abuse is being prevented. That is especially important as Sen. Ron Wyden stated on July 30th

    “We had a big development last Friday when Gen. [James] Clapper, the head of the intelligence agencies, admitted that the community had violated these court orders on phone record collection, and I’ll tell your viewers that those violations are significantly more troubling than the government has stated.”

    It seems apparent that the “transparency” promised will require more than just the eloquent words of a President that has a failed track record on transparency promises, like a determined effort by members of Congress to ensure legislation as well as oversight is enacted. But Congress is divided on that point.

    Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)

    Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY 22)


    Which brings up Rep. Richard Hanna. As previously noted above, and stated in a prior article I wrote on July 25th, Rep. Hanna has voted against restricting the NSA and other agencies from the blanket powers they currently have. That is at odds with his publicized statements that he is in favor of limiting that power. Rep. Hanna is also absent his support on other legislation to restrict the blanket power of the Government to spy on average citizens, as seen in his lack of support for H.R. 2399: LIBERT-E Act. Thus his stated position seems hollow compared to his actions in Congress.

    Yet such flip-flops do not seem to trouble Rep. Hanna as he visited the Southern Tier – finally. Though he has been the representative of a district that covers the Southern Tier and Central NY, he has largely avoided the area until the current recess of Congress.

    While this week Rep. Hanna has talked with firefighters and Binghamton University, stating a commitment to help small business and communities, there is no lack of question to his commitment on these issues. Since 2011, when he entered Congress, Rep Hanna has sponsored and/or co-sponsored 22 Bills. Of those he has succeeded in naming a Post Office, and getting 2 baseball commemorative coin legislation passed. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, and member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Joint Economic Committee, constituents might expect more but that is not what has been received.

    Still, the bigger question may be where has Rep. Hanna been before the current recess of Congress and the announcement of a potential Republican challenger (myself). One might even question if Rep. Hanna would have bothered to address the Southern Tier were it not for the potential of a challenger, as his efforts in the 2012 re-election campaign seemed to display.

    Like with President Obama, Rep. Hanna appears to be trailing the needs of constituents. In fact, based on his flip-flops of making statements to constituents and voting opposite on the floor of Congress, Rep. Hanna appears to be a mysterious force in Congress. He has attacked his Party, apparently abandoned his campaign positions, and sided against the Rights and best interests of his constituents (in my opinion) on multiple occasions. One would be hard pressed to define his positions on late-term abortion, immigration reform, drones and legislation restricting their abuse by Government, or several other issues.

    None of which adds any credibility or confidence in his ability or desire to actually follow up on everything discussed and presented this week in the Southern Tier.

    What has the political talk of August 5th – 10th provided the New York 22nd Congressional District and the nation? Not much when any deeper consideration of what has been said is looked at. While the soundbites sound great, this cursory attempt to maintain political power and placate the public ultimately provides no confidence that anything but the current status quo will be maintained.

    Is the Internet the end of political waffling? Not quite

    Long ago politicians earned the moniker of being 2-faced and envisioned as “oil can Harry’s”. But in the age of the Internet, where the public has almost instantaneous access to voting records, video of speeches, and transcripts of campaign pledges one might assume modern politicians would be more straightforward. You may recall what happens when you assume.

    Case in point, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY22). In just the last few months he has either supported both sides of an issue and/or directly reversed his position or ignored constituent concerns. This justification of his ranking as the 5th most moderate Republican member of Congress [Bipartisan Policy Center - July 2012], though he ran in 2010 as a Tea Party conservative, has been achieved through careful wordplay and the assumption that voters aren’t paying attention to the details, in my opinion.

    Here are some facts:

    March 2013 -

  • The Drone Caucus (which Rep Hanna is a member) fails to mention legislation protecting 4th Amendment Rights in its 5 mission statements – http://unmannedsystemscaucus.mckeon.house.gov/about/purpose-mission-goals.shtml
  • 25th – Rep Hanna is pushing to get Unmanned Aerial Systems in sky by 2015 to promote job growth – http://wrvo.org/post/hanna-optimistic-upstate-new-york-will-land-drone-test-site

    April 2013

  • 24th – Rep Hanna skips Joint Economic Committee meeting on solutions to long-term unemployment – http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-poorly-attended-hearing-on-one-of-the-economy-s-toughest-problems-20130424
  • 24th – Rep Hanna publishes article promoting immigration reform to provide visas to foreign workers to gain STEM jobs – http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/science-technology-engineering-math-education-immigration-90517.html

    May 2013 -

  • 10th – Rep Hanna raises concern about impact of immigration reform on the unemployed seeking a job – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/10/heres-the-economic-advice-congress-is-getting-on-immigration/
  • 16th – CBS News reports 32 States considering legislation to limit drone use, 4 other have passed laws (not New York), Rep Hanna makes no comment – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57584695/lawmakers-move-to-limit-domestic-drones/

    June 2013

  • 18th – H.R 1917 receives NO vote from Rep Hanna, who is on record as against late-term abortions. H.R. 1917 would deny abortions as late as 20 weeks unless the life of the mother is at risk – http://hanna.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3536&Itemid=

    July 2013

  • 24th – H Amnd 413, the Amash Amendment to restrict NSA from blanket gathering of phone and internet domestic data of general public, was voted on – Rep Hanna voted NO – http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h412
  • 25th – H.R. 2397, Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, passed. Rep Hanna, in discussing his vote YEA, states he also voted for restricting NSA – http://hanna.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3557&Itemid=

    4th Amendment, abortion, immigration, and jobs all in just the first half of 2013. Plus pushing for technology to invade privacy without regulation and taking credit for a vote on an issue popular with the public that didn’t happen – a full roster of questionable actions. No matter what position a voter may have on these issues, Rep Hanna appears to have covered every base without actually taking a position that might endanger re-election hopes one may infer.

    The question should be asked if the lack of political fortitude stems from a lack of connection to constituents and their concerns on these issues? Is it shrewd political calculations to help fend off 2014 election challengers? Or is it a lack of understanding of the ramifications for the issues and legislation at hand?

    With all the advantages that modern technology affords it is still difficult enough for a voter to understand 2000+ page laws, secret courts, new technologies that are unaddressed by current law and so on. It is infinitely worse when elected politicians live up to the popular negative stereotypes that contribute to a 75% DISSAPROVAL rating of Congress.

  • Response to article: Hanna: Every day… you get to help someone

    The following letter has been submitted as a Letter to the Editor of the Binghamton Press & Sun, Norwich Evening Sun, and Utica Observer-Dispatch. This is a verbatim copy.

    On May 21st Rep. Richard Hanna spoke with the editorial board of the Utica Observer-Dispatch, about the objectives of his second term. While there may have been far more detail in that conversation than was reported, what was stated leaves questions that demand clarification from Rep. Hanna.

    First and foremost is the question about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs. While there has been a push by Rep. Hanna to promote this, his position has been unclear.

    As has been widely reported, Rep. Hanna supports promoting immigration reform that would allow foreigners to gain these jobs – clarified as a “temporary” stopgap measure until more Americans are available for those jobs. His support has been so strong that he failed to appear at a Joint Economic Committee meeting [April 24, 2013 - Lawmaker Unemployment Hearing Attended By Single Member of Congress At Opening] on resolving long-term unemployment. Instead, on that same day he provided a written support of immigration reform [April 24, 2013 - Help Wanted: The STEM workforce shortage] specifically targeting increasing H1-B Visas. Yet, in a Joint Economic Committee meeting that he did subsequently appear in [May 10, 2013 - Here’s the economic advice Congress is getting on immigration], Rep. Hanna apparently voiced concern over the competition that an increase of the immigrant workforce would naturally create.

    Politics may allow for claiming both sides of an argument, but Representatives should be clear when speaking with constituents about which side they actually stand on. Further, what exactly is “temporary”?

    If a greater focus on STEM education were to be enacted tomorrow, does that mean that foreigners (under the position Rep. Hanna promotes) should be favored for these jobs for the next 4 years – until current college students graduate, or 8 years – when current high school students could graduate college, or 12 years – when those high school students graduate college with advanced degrees?

    Most importantly, on this issue, shouldn’t the Representative be direct enough to clarify that regardless of the path taken, the reality is that STEM jobs – which are a fraction of the jobs available in New York State and the nation – will take a long time to occur and will not effectively help the current above national average unemployment besieging constituents of the NY 22nd Congressional District.

    Perhaps another question that should be asked is how this focus on STEM jobs will benefit the constituents of NY when – as stated by Rep. Hanna on January 29, 2013 [Hanna shares political beliefs and concerns at annual meeting] – “Especially in Upstate New York, where agriculture affects about 80 percent of our economy.

    Rather, given the fact that New York State is consistently viewed as the most business unfriendly State in the nation (a race to the bottom in many reports versus current progressive ‘capital’ California – which Gov. Cuomo in his 2013 State of the State Address seeks to surpass), and that America as a nation is one of the least competitive due to our corporate tax rate of 39.1% [April 13, 2013 - Yes, Sen. Sanders, We Really Do Have the Highest Corporate Tax Rate in the World], wouldn’t a focus on forcing Congress and President Obama (who made a big deal of reducing the corporate rate during his 2012 election campaign) to lower the corporate rate be the best short- and long-term solution? A solution that can promote small business growth, creating a greater demand for STEM jobs in Upstate New York and the nation – which would motivate students to not only seek these fields, but to decide to stay in NY once they have gained that degree. A solution that also helps improve the national economy and long-term unemployment.

    I have been speaking with many Americans across the NY-22 as part of my exploration on a run for the District, and have been following for a long time the national desire to lower the corporate rate. The benefit seems clear and generally bi-partisan (excluding the desire by some to emphasize increased taxes as a solution – that has as yet to provide the boost the nation continues to seek). Why is the focus not on this solution that can be a broad based benefit?

    The answer could be the appeal of gaining part of the potential 11 million new voters that current proposals on immigration reform may provide. Understandably, from a political power standpoint, that is an issue that must be addressed. But to focus on that political ambition, via obfuscation on the more pervasive and imminent problem of unemployment and economic health, is a disservice to the constituents and nation.

    If we want to truly promote STEM jobs and education, and motivate small business growth, for New York State and the nation, then a “temporary” fix will not do. We need to address the core problem, and corporate tax rates are part of that core problem. More direct discussion and action on that will do better to provide the end result than foreign immigrants and HB-1 visas.

    Sincerely

    Michael Vasquez

    Note – Michael Vasquez has formed an exploratory committee to determine a potential run in the 2014 NY election for the 22nd Congressional District, which Rep. Richard Hanna represents. The exploratory site can be found at http://exploratory.electmichaelvasquez.com

    Rep Hanna straddling immigration reform

    On May 10, 2013, Rep Richard Hanna appeared at a Joint Economic Committee meeting on immigration. He stated, in an apparent follow up to the Politico article that he published supporting immigration reform to enable foreigners gaining visas for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, that there is a concern that immigration reform will cause competition for US citizens in the workplace.

    There seems to be a disconnect.

    On April 24th, Rep. Richard Hanna did not attend the Joint Economic Committee meeting on resolutions to the long-term unemployment rate. Instead he wrote an article suggesting that immigration reform be used to fill the void of STEM workers to stimulate small business growth.

    “But because creating a sufficiently deep and broad pipeline of domestic STEM teachers, students and workers will take many years, we also need to consider reforming our immigration laws now to allow more foreign STEM workers to fill immediate job openings. Far from taking net jobs from U.S. citizens, allowing foreign workers to join or create businesses right here will inevitably lead to innovation and invention that in turn creates more American jobs, American paychecks and American taxpayers.”

    Yet on May 10th, the Washington Post quotes Rep. Hanna as concerned over the competition that immigration reform can pose to the American worker

    Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) asked about the widespread belief among economists that immigrants don’t really take jobs from Americans. “Much immigrant labor is highly skilled and thus presumably not differentiated,” he said. “Why would wage competition not incur in the labor market?”

    Beyond the fact that the sentences are poorly worded, the Washington Post is reporting Rep. Hanna as being against the very argument that he posed 16 days earlier. So the question is, will immigration reform cause greater competition for jobs to American citizens? Rep. Hanna apparently believes that it won’t and that it will.

    The New York 22nd Congressional District contains Counties that have unemployment rates which at the lowest is 9% unemployment and increasing to 11% in the most hard hit County. Small businesses, and constituents seeking employment, are sure to want to have a clear understanding on what their Representative is telling them about immigration reform. Will it grow their businesses, or will it cause even further unemployment in a State that is already ranked the worst in business friendliness.

    Eloquence in speaking aside, Representatives in Congress have a duty to present the issues that affect constituents, and make the case for the best choice of action. That is the obligation whether the Representative is the most Conservative or Liberal in their own beliefs, with the responsibility to then vote the choice of the people – even if it opposes their own belief. Even a Representative that is one of the most moderate in Congress, is not allowed to argue both sides of the issue and present confusion to constituents.

    Either the NY-22 is in favor of giving foreigners visas to fill STEM jobs, or they are against immigration reform that would add to the burden for those unemployed and looking for work opportunities. Only one is the choice of the people of the NY-22. The Representative in Congress should be very clear what that choice is, and stand by the will of the people.