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What’s the worst position to have on Syria?

For most of the day, on Sept 4th, the media was deeply entrenched in news about the US potentially bombing Syria due to the alleged use of chemical weapons. From the weak attempt of President Obama to try to garner support from the international community (“…the world set a red line…”) to Secretary Kerry’s avoidance of questions about how the Obama Administration would use any authorization of force against Syria to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approval of same authorization. Big news for an issue that likely will take a decade to resolve all the ramifications.

Both sides of the issue have strong reasons for their causes. Those in favor of bombing Syria make the case that this will help deter future chemical weapons use around the world. They say that there is a moral imperative for the 1,400 that died. They say that if not stopped now, one day a terrorist will decide to use such weapons against the US, potentially.

Those against action state that US intervention in a sovereign nations internal dispute has no benefit to America. They pose the conclusion that ultimately, no matter who wins, the US will be blamed for collateral losses which will spur terrorist recruitment and lead to attacks against the nation. They counter that if the loss of 1,400 lives is a moral imperative, then what is the reason for the lack of action in the face of the genocide in Darfur that has claimed more than 1.2 million lives, and created ore than 300,000 refugees?

Both sides can be faulted for making assumptions that may not be fully valid. Both have flaws as well as core truths that should not be ignored.

But recent polling show clear lines of thought. Pew Research (9/3/13) noted that 74% felt a strike on Syria would lead to a backlash against the US. Only 33% felt, in the same poll, that a strike would be effective in deterring future chemical weapon attacks.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll (9/3/13) shows 59% opposed to attacking Syria (and 70% opposed to arming they Syrian rebels). An NBC poll (8/29/13) shows only 26% in favor of military action, increasing to 42% if chemical weapon use is proven, still a mere 21% see US interests actually linked to Syria.

Yet this is not the point of this article. The above is only meant to clarify a single point. There are clear and definitive positions in America on the issue of military strikes against Syria. In fact more than 140 Republicans and Democrat legislators signed a letter by Rep. Scott Rigell that went before President Obama on the issue of authorization by Congress for any proposed action (one of the most bipartisan acts in some time). For or against, the majority of elected politicians have taken a stance and are doing their jobs by trying to convince their constituents that they are on the right side of the issue.

The point of this post is about those politicians that are sitting on the fence, like Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22). He is 1 of 2 Republicans, and 1 of 16 members of Congress representing New York State, that have clearly stated they have no position on the issue at this time.

“When the use-of-force resolution is finalized, I will review it closely to determine whether or not actions enabled by it advance vital interests of the United States and are in the best interest of upstate New Yorkers” – Rep. Richard Hanna 9/4/13

I do not believe that such a position is an act of leadership or even a responsible response for a representative elected to Congress. My first thoughts in fact were summed up in my Twitter response earlier in the day,

@electvasquezny – “Leadership is not about winning every battle or being right in every debate, its about decisiveness in the face of ambiguity.”

Let me be clear, I do not advocate a hasty decision on an issue with ramifications that reach across the globe and may not be resolved in total for a decade or more. Nor do I advocate a close-minded approach that would prevent both proof and reasonable debate from swaying an elected official from one position to a more worthy one.

But this is an issue that demands definitive answers from elected officials now. Constituents have a right to know if their representative believes that Congress needs to approve Presidential military action of this nature. They need to know if, after weeks of discussion and information, their Representative believes that US interests are at risk – one way or another.

It is the obligation of an elected politician to present, in their view, the best options available on any issue – and provide proof and arguments to back up that belief – for the benefit of constituents. Anything less is not deliberation but political maneuvering glossed over with false sympathy, in my opinion.

This is even more true when such ambiguity is the weapon of a politician that has time and again taken both sides of issues – like immigration, long-term abortion, the NSA and 4th Amendment, even going back to 2011 and Libya. “When the use-of-force resolution is finalized…” says volumes. Once that is done, the debate will essentially be over, with a clear indication of both where the nation feels is the best course of action and what will or will not be done. At that point, those on the fence will just be jumping on a bandwagon, evading any fear of a cost of votes in their next re-election.

Issues of this magnitude have grave consequences, and political opportunism can never benefit the average American. More than ever, moments like this define the future of the nation and thus require those strong enough to stand up and take a stance they believe is both correct and worthy. Only in making strong arguments, and fighting for the best outcome can America walk a path to tomorrow with confidence it has done the right thing.

I can say with certitude that I believe intervention into Syria, especially with military action that is purposefully ineffective at swaying the conflict, is the worst option for America in the long run. It is a plan without foresight to the consequences it will create, and provides no upside to our nation at any point. I appreciate and respect the reasons that oppose my view, and I am more than willing to listen to informed and reasonable debate to sway my position – just as I am willing to wholeheartedly defend my points until proven credibly wrong. I have talked to residents of the NY-22 and beyond, and will speak to more on this issue upon request, because this conversation is the only way to resolve a problem that the hubris of our President has thrust upon us. How can our elected officials do any less?

There are 16 members of Congress for New York that are on a fence. I have called out Rep. Hanna to reveal, clearly and without ambiguity, where he stands and why as he is my Representative and others should do the same for their Representative. I have no doubt that he and the others all hold preferences, and they should have the internal fortitude to let the public know what that is. Just as this is not about partisanship, so to it should not be about bandwagons and political maneuver for re-election plans and fundraising dreams.

In America we expect more from our politicians, and this is the time and issue where our politicians live up to that expectation.

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.

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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

Part-time employment has been a problem longer than you think

Growth in Part-time Workers - Source: BLS

Growth in Part-time Workers – Source: BLS

It’s been a very busy summer, speeches and a fundraiser taking up more than a little time and attention – and I’m not nearly done. But the rest of the world of politics has hardly waited for a break in my schedule. Thus I want to recap a few key points in the next few articles. I’ll start with the part-time employment bandwagon.

On July 5th, The Wall Street Journal published the article Part-Time America. This highlighted a serious concern that seemingly no one else heard of. Or rather no one in the major media was willing to discuss. The growth trend in part-time jobs had become a stark and undeniable by-product of Obamacare. Businesses, facing the impending employer mandate, opted to pay the fine rather than pay the cost of healthcare for employees. As the WSJ stated

“All of this gives businesses that operate on thin margins—and that’s most businesses—an incentive to hire more part-time workers.”

The Washington Post, not to be left out, stated on July 8th that

“Well, Obamacare creates a big new tax on full-time employees. So what does common sense tell us about that? It tells us there will be fewer full-time employees and more part-time employees as employers work to minimize their costs and vulnerability under Obamacare.”

Even the L.A. Times and New York Times had to note the contribution of Obamacare – grudgingly.

But is this a new result, an unforeseen or unpredictable outcome? Only if you are Rep. Nancy Pelosi or Sen. Harry Reid. Before announcing my exploratory committee I noted in my monthly review of the unemployment rate:

March 12, 2013 – “The number of people that could only find part-time work, on average from 2003 – 2008 was 1.3 million people. On average from 2009 – 2012 that number increased to 2.35 million. As of February 2013 the figure is 2.47 million. This increase counts as a positive reduction in the official unemployment rate, though it is counted as a negative in the U-6 total figure…

Lastly the data shows no conclusive benefit from the Obama Stimulus or the Health Care Reform. In fact much of the data shows that the Stimulus could have hindered the economic recession’s recovery, as improvement occurred only as the effect of the Stimulus dwindled. As for the Health Care Reform, it’s only immediate impact appears to be the seemingly direct increase in part-time workers…

Perhaps this is why politicians and media stick to headlines on unemployment data. Looking deeper just highlights a reality that is not being addressed.”

Of course it can be said that I found the numbers with luck. Except I started crunching the part-time employment numbers December 9, 2012

“The number of part-time workers unable to get full-time work has continued to increase with the current to-date amount of 2.54 million per month for 2012. This is an increase vs 2002 (full year) of 126%, vs 2010 of 6.8%, and vs 2011 of 0.9%.”

But my point isn’t a pat on my back for seeing a trend and causation literally months before the major media or politicians decided to really analyze the unemployment data. It’s that we have members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the major media that are so busy posturing and trying to look like they know what they are doing (or passing out 30 second soundbites that obscure the fact they aren’t doing their homework) that the nation is suffering.

The reward for empty promises and bad legislation? A 93% re-election rate, and profits for the media companies. Does anyone think that this is what our Government is supposed to be about? Does anyone feel like we should be treated better? Isn’t it time for Congress to do it’s job?

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.