Facebook Commentary: How is the American economy really doing?

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

Political commentary from Facebook as written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez:

Do you recall the big headlines on the unemployment rate earlier this month? You know, like this one from the Washington Post on 1/8/16 – U.S. added 292,000 jobs in December; unemployment rate steady at 5 percent

“The U.S. economy finished the year with a red-hot hiring spree, adding 292,000 new jobs as the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent…”

Of course you may recall my more in depth story on that same day – Headlines tout job gains, ignore Self Employed & Participation

“Given the fact that Self Employed rates continue to slide down, it would appear that innovation still has not worked. The fact that median income in the nation has increased a mere $972 (or 3.5%) in 15 years may be one factor. Family savings grew $159 (1.8%) since 2012 to $8,978 today, which could be another factor. But whatever the reason the American economy is not nearly as healthy as the Obama Administration would like to imply.”

Well here is the headline you likely won’t see in the US, but the rest of the world is aware of – 1/29/16 – U.S. economic growth rate slows to 0.7 percent in fourth quarter

“Gross domestic product increased at a 0.7 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Friday in a report that showed a further cutback in investment by energy firms grappling with lower oil prices. Growth in consumer spending also slowed as unseasonably mild weather cut into spending on utilities… Excluding inventories and trade, the economy grew at a 1.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter.”

The point is, while the happy headline of the MSM is pointing to a healthy and robust economy, the reality that is generally under-reported is that the problems are long-term and negative.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook Commentary: Obama Administration linked to child slave labor

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

The political commentary is as written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez on Facebook:

This is sickening.

After generally inviting unaccompanied children to enter the US illegally, the Obama Administration then abandoned these children. In my opinion, this clearly explains why Government should not micromanage the lives of citizens, and should not be involved in things it does not know about (like inviting illegal aliens in the first place).

“The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children, allowed sponsors to take custody of multiple unrelated children, and regularly placed children in homes without visiting the locations, according to a 56-page investigative report released Thursday.
And once the children left federally funded shelters, the report said, the agency permitted their adult sponsors to prevent caseworkers from providing them post-release services.”

[Quote is from article by Washington Post – 1/29/16]

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Will political donor Steve Wells be another NY-22 candidate?

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

- Article first published January 26, 2016, at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com, written by Michael Vasquez -

There is seemingly no end to the number of candidates indicating interest in the 2016 New York 22nd congressional race. Rumors of new candidates are appearing almost as fast as potential candidates are dropping out, while new unknown names are entering the race. One of those unknowns is of particular interest.

In Madison County, one of the 8 counties that in part or whole make up the NY-22, a new name that apparently is preparing to make an announcement appears to be Steven Wells. The general public is certainly unaware of who Mr. Wells is, as he has never made a public statement about any political issue or matter of substance. But among political circles Mr. Wells is far better known.

Political Donor Steve Wells

Mr. Wells is the President/COO/Executive of American Food and Vending Corporation (AFVC).  AFVC is the parent company of American International Foodservice Corporation and American Vending. In addition Mr. Wells is a partner in Kirkwood Ventures LLC. The confusion in the titles is connected directly with the reason Mr. Wells is known among politicians.

Mr. Wells is a prolific campaign donor. Via his various companies he has donated to multiple campaigns including: Former Assemblyman John Faso, Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. Tom Reed, and retiring Rep. Richard Hanna. While some of his recent donations may seem to favor Republicans, Mr. Wells is not limited to that Party. He has made donations to Former Rep. Dan Maffei and Former Rep. Bill Owens. Just last year Mr. Wells, via the companies he controls, made donations of $10,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April 2015 (interestingly after losing a legal case over the Empire Zone tax status of his company). In all, Mr. Wells has been an active and avid campaign donor since 2000.

The item that is curious about all these donations is that they are all reported as being from multiple cities in New York State. While attributed to the same companies, under the various titles noted above, donations have been made from Binghamton, Cazenovia, Faetteville, Liverpool, and Syracuse. It should be noted that the headquarters of AFVC is listed as in Syracuse, NY, though its direct subsidiary is reported as being headquartered in Pompano Beach, Florida. It is confusing.

Beyond the multiple political donations, there appears to be almost no other connection to politics by Mr. Wells. He has no public record of any positions on any issue that has faced the nation, ever. Having supported Republicans and Democrats alike, there is no clear indication of where he stands either. In fact the only public record that can be found is a Youtube video attributed to Mr. Wells, where he advises new youthful entrants to the workforce to dumb down their interactions with clients and co-workers. But while he has maintained a low public profile, Mr. Wells was part of the transition team for Rep. John Katco in 2014, who replaced Rep. Maffei that Mr. Wells donated to in 2010.

Regardless of this apparent lack of visibility on the issues affecting Americans for more than a decade, Mr. Wells has made several moves to enter the congressional race according to our sources. A few Republicans have advanced his cause in Madison County. Separately we have confirmed Mr. Wells has spoken to several Chairmen of the various Republican committees across the district about his interest in running. In addition we have sources, who requested to not be named, that have indicated that moves to create a formal campaign are under way.

Our attempts to contact Mr. Wells for this article have gone without response. This leaves several questions up in the air. Is Mr. Wells going to continue moving forward with his campaign? Where does Mr. Wells stand on the issues, and why has he been silent? What does he hope to achieve in Congress? What motivated his political donations to Republicans and Democrats, most of whom seem to not be connected to his County of residence? Where exactly is Mr. Wells County of residence, and why has he made donations in such a confusing manner?

Of course the penultimate question would have to be what is it that Mr. Wells believes he can present to the voters in the NY-22? Beyond the story of his success as a businessman and political donor, what can Mr. Wells bring to the congressional race. This may be the critical question that could be the final factor whether Mr. Wells will move forward or add his financial support to the existing candidates as he has done in the past.

Regardless, one thing is certain. With the start of the petition season beginning on March 8, 2016, given the lack of name recognition throughout the New York 22nd congressional district of every known and potential candidate (with the exception of Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney who ran in 2014), the need to make an official entry into the race is increasingly a more urgent matter. Madison County Republicans will be meeting on February 9, 2016 to discuss the declared candidates (to be followed by Oswego County 2 days later, and other County Committees thereafter).

We extend the offer, to Mr. Wells and all candidates and incumbents, the opportunity to have an interview with us about this or any election. We do not endorse any candidate. We seek to provide information for voters about all candidates and any matter relevant to primaries and elections.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Exclusive Interview: Claudia Tenney discusses her congressional race

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

- Article first published January 23, 2016, at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com, written by Michael Vasquez –

On Thursday, January 21, 2016, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney was meeting with the public in Broome County. One of her stops was at the Endicott, NY, VFW Post 1449. It was here that we were able to get an exclusive interview with the leading candidate for the 2016 NY 22nd congressional district race.


Assemblywoman Tenney, who had previously spent the day in Albany discussing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget in the Assembly along with other issues, took a half hour way from the veterans, members, and guests of the VFW to go over her second congressional campaign. In 2014, Assemblywoman Tenney was a late entry to the race challenging incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna. Assemblywoman Tenney, like Rep. Hanna, is a Republican and their battle was for the Republican nomination. Assemblywoman Tenney lost that primary race by a small margin of 2,000 votes out of the 8 Counties that make up the NY-22. Because the Democrat Party failed to present any challenger, Rep. Hanna went on to win the election 74% – 26% (those votes being blank, or for Mickey Mouse, ect.).

In November 2015, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (who represents the 101st Assembly District currently) announced her decision to challenge Rep. Hanna once again for the seat in Congress. But in a surprise move in December 2015, Rep. Hanna announced he would resign his seat at the end of 2016, creating an open seat election. With that announcement a floodgate of interest opened up. Potential candidates, in both the Democrat and Republican Parties, who had never indicated any interest in running for the seat suddenly announced their curiosity. Currently Democrat David Gordon, a former 1-term Legislator who has since lost election twice, stepped up as the only Democrat willing to run. Republican George Phillips, who had previously lost in 2 congressional races before the NY-22 was redistricted, resurfaced with an interest to run again after a 6 year hiatus (not including his appointment to and resignation from the Broome County 8th District Legislators seat, 2013-2014). In addition, a first-time candidate, Aaron Price who is best known for his efforts to have Upstate NY secede to Pennsylvania, has announced his intent to run as a Republican challenger this week.

In the interview, Assemblywoman Tenney noted that her campaign (like that in 2014) was based on representation of the public and providing the public a choice in that representation. Her record as a strong supporter of the Constitution was clearly evident as she welcomed the competition of the latest challengers. In fact she opened the door to full debate with Price and Phillips, a move rarely seen with traditional establishment frontrunners. But then, Claudia Tenney is not considered the establishment candidate.

In regard to her experience, Assemblywoman Tenney noted her work as a lawyer, as well as being owner of a family run manufacturing business – a status that continues to diminish in population in the State. Which led to her views on the $15/hour mandatory minimum wage created by the Cuomo Administration. In the words of Assemblywoman Tenney,

“…the Tax Foundation determined that New York is in fact the highest taxed State in the nation. We have the 2nd highest energy burden as far as regulations against our business community…The reality is that a mandate from Government to say that we must pay $15 with all the burdens that we pay in addition makes us less competitive as a nation.”

Further, Assemblywoman Tenney discussed one of the most critical issues facing the nation. The question of not only creating jobs, but keeping jobs in the US. An issue that has plagued the Obama Administration since 2009, and has led to a 62.6% participation rate – a low not seen since the 1970′s. In part, she noted that the free-trade deals – like NAFTA and the recent Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – have been more a part of the problem than the resolution. As to the question of H1b and H2b visas that insert foreigners into jobs instead of Americans (which we asked of Aaron Price and George Phillips),

“Part of the reason these big multi-national and globalist countries are behind this , the US Chamber [of Commerce] and others are behind this type of initiative is because they can get cheap labor, cheap foreign labor to displace our local American labor and I think that’s a bad thing. I wouldn’t support that as a member of Congress… I didn’t support the Omnibus [Spending Bill] because it increased the number of H1b and H2b visas both and that can be devastating to our workforce in the US.”

In turning to international politics, especially the controversial Iran Nuclear Deal and current question on the Syrian refugees, Assemblywoman Tenney had strong opinions. She identified her belief that one of the key reasons for the Federal Government is the defense of the nation, which the Iran deal endangers. As for the Syrian refugees, the issue comes back to ISIS and the civil war in Syria, to paraphrase Assemblywoman Tenney. The need for vetting the refugees is critical in her opinion, and must be a key factor addressed before America can be the welcoming home that it has been for refugees across the globe.

“The Iran nuclear deal allows one of the greatest sponsors, the biggest sponsor in the world of terrorism… to allow Iran to now come in and use those assets and use that to sponsor more terrorism against the US. I would never have supported the deal… “

As for Assemblywoman Tenney’s record, she stood firm on what she has done in the NY State Assembly. That included her fight to make former Assembly leader Sheldon Silvers accountable for his corruption, years prior to the actions of Preet Bhara. She also addressed what she called the 2014 false flag campaign. It was a series of commercials alleging among other things that she voted with Democrats and therefore was a Liberal. Assemblywoman Tenney set the record straight on what she has accomplished and noted that,

“People should know, look up my record. The Conservative Party wouldn’t rank me so high if I were a Sheldon Silver devotee.”

This of course lead to a discussion on the potential for compromise. We asked if a Republican with strong constitutional values could make compromises in Congress?

“Somehow standing for our Constitution, which is one of the most liberal documents created in the history of mankind, makes you an extremist. It’s not. … I reach across the isle to find common ground. I don’t compromise our principles or our values. I don’t compromise the principles of our country was founded on – whether they’re Republican or Democrat, however you want to view them… I have dozens and dozens of bills with Democrats. I can’t get a bill passed in the State Assembly without Democratic support… Compromise is great and I support it, surrender is not acceptable.”

In summary, we were able to delve a bit deeper into who is the frontrunner in the NY 22nd congressional race. Besides being the only candidate with a complete campaign website – detailing a political platform she stands for – and having experience in running for Congress, we were able to gain access to the questions that voters want clear answers on. In an election where some candidates are hiding their past and declining to state where they stand on the issues, Assemblywoman Tenney stands apart with a very clear message.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

1st Amendment under attack in South Carolina

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

Article first published at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com, written by Michael Vasquez

There is a terrifying message creeping across the nation. The news media and what it reports is only what some in power want it to be, limiting what the public can be informed about. It’s a message coming from Democrats and Republicans, from the Executive Branch and local State government. A message that started long before President Obama failed to exclude FOX News, continued in SOPA, and can be seen in the January 19, 2016 Bill presented in South Carolina.

ClaudiaT_014

The 1st Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” It’s a powerful statement. It ensures, among other things, the ability of citizens to gather and support/criticize the government. It ensures that the press can bring issues of governance to the people. Without this Right there would be no Watergate, no realization nor demand for transparency on Fast & Furious, no spotlight on the IRS abusing its power and intimidating public assembly. The plight of veterans dying waiting for medical treatment, which has increased in severity since first being reported, and the overreach of the Executive Branch via Executive Orders could continue unabated, potentially without pause until the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are eroded without the knowledge of the public.

It was September 2009 when the first attempt by the Obama Administration to declare what is or is not a “legitimate” news organization was defeated by the combination of ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC. It was in January 2012 that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – and it’s counterpart in the House of Representatives, Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) – was presented by Congress in an attempt to diminish the 1st Amendment on the internet. The outcry by the industries on the internet and bloggers of all types was enormous. Then in 2014 it came down to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the 1st Amendment rights of bloggers and internet journalists in reporting on news events and information of import to the public from the local to national level.

But Government at many levels disputes this. It could even be said that elected politicians find the 24/7 news cycle, the access to the internet for research and video coverage, and holding officials accountable for their actions to be problematic for their political aspirations. Whether that is on the local level, as was the case with NY State Senator Sue Serino in her clash with videographer Mert Melfa or Hillary Clinton’s attempt to dismiss her use of classified emails, at every level, politicians apparently want control over what and when they are being reported on.

That desire to control and regulate the news media continues even now. On January 19, 2016, South Carolina State Representative Mike Pitts offered Bill H 4702. The Bill requires that journalist must be registered, must pay registration fees, and imposing criminal penalties if hired without this registration. The exact wording of the Bill is,

“… TO ENACT THE “SOUTH CAROLINA RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM REGISTRY LAW” SO AS TO ESTABLISH REQUIREMENTS FOR PERSONS BEFORE WORKING AS A JOURNALIST FOR A MEDIA OUTLET AND FOR MEDIA OUTLETS BEFORE HIRING A JOURNALIST;… TO AUTHORIZE REGISTRY FEES; TO ESTABLISH FINES AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CHAPTER; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.”

Obviously this would be unconstitutional if it were to be presented in Congress. This proposed Bill violates the 1st Amendment directly in its curtailing of free speech and press. Regardless of what conditions would constitute the requirements to be recognized as “responsible” – which have yet to be released to the public – the result is a silencing the press and public debate. Governmental control over who can speak is the definition of censorship. But since it is being presented at the State level some might argue that the 10th Amendment applies.

The argument is moot though. No matter the level of government that suggests the restriction of the Rights of the public, the effect is the same. No matter the justification, this is seen as a violation of the core principles of America. State Rep. Pitts has said that his reasoning is his displeasure with the way some media outlets have address gun control.

“With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”

Even with this “primary” focus on print and television news media, the fact is that this affects all media. This affects bloggers and social media. This affects readers and the general public in South Carolina as well. But if this would pass in South Carolina, is there any doubt that the Sue Serino’s in New York would seek to chill the 1st Amendment in New York? That presidential hopefuls like Sen. Ted Cruz might want to silence the talk on his citizenship, or Hillary Clinton might want to silence discussion on her role in Benghazi or the funding of the Clinton Foundation? Even President Obama would look to eliminate review of his Executive Orders on illegal immigration and gun control. The desire, and precedent, to silence the public would likely have no bounds.

All governments have historically sought ever greater power. Often the worst portions of recorded history denote the silence of the public prior to atrocity. Rarely has the purpose of either been described by those in control as anything but to the benefit of the public. But the question is will the public react this time?

With each attempt, government has sought to obscure the far-reaching impact of the attempt to eliminate the voice of the press and the public. With each attempt a new way to reach the same result is engaged. But only the swift and collective response from the public has thwarted this 1st Amendment challenge.

If that response will come is unknown. Only the people of South Carolina will decide that. But Americans across the nation should be aware. Because once again, government appears to be on the march again.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Exclusive: Congressional candidate Aaron Price interview with Michael Vasquez

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

** As written previously by Michael “Vass” Vasquez for Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **

On January 18, 2016, we received a call from New York 22nd Congressional District Republican candidate Aaron Price. Mr. Price was responding to our previous request for comment (which we have extended to ALL candidates in the NY-22 race). In an exclusive phone interview we discussed why he is running, several social and policy issues, and the subject that Mr. Price has been best known for publicly.

Mr. Price noted that he is a first time candidate, motivated by his belief the nation is at a crossroads. Throughout the conversation Mr. Price emphasized a focus on economic policy centered on natural gas development and a reduction in the size of Government. Mr. Price strongly feels that the intrusion of Government into many aspects of daily life is a source of the decay of the nation.


Interestingly, in discussing international policy, Mr. Price did mention his support of the Obama Administration’s handling with regard to ISIS. He voiced a belief that the best approach to the Syrian civil war is a general hands-off policy with an ultimate intent to remove Syrian Prime Minister Bashar Assad. In terms of the Iran nuclear deal he was more vague, but stated a general dislike of the deal.

“Slowly but surely, the policy [Obama Administration ISIS strategy] has worked… It’s next to impossible to intervene in the Syrian civil war, until all the sides slug it out… the deal we’re on now will not disarm Iran. It will just be Iraq again.”

With a focus on domestic issues, Mr. Price often fell back on the issue he has previously been most publicly known for, Natural Gas and fracking. Mr. Price clarified his belief that US energy generation would allow for a decreased reliance on foreign oil (allowing for a reduction in importance in Middle East countries and potentially reducing the intensity of conflicts there) and improve the national debt. It is that $19 trillion debt that Mr. Price feels is of critical importance – noting that without improvement it would eventually lead to austerity programs like that being forced upon Greece.

“When you look around the world, when countries get in economic trouble, the first thing they do is get an austerity package.”

But Mr. Price also mentioned several controversial items in the phone interview. He highlighted his proposal (under development) intent in creating a new tax, a national sales tax, meant to be used solely to pay down the national debt. Mr. Price explained that this would not be a long-term tax, and thus would not affect job creation or growth, as the pain of this tax will motivate the public to call for an inflow of conservative fiscal policy.

“I really believe that if people had to suddenly pay extra to start paying off the debt they would immediately stop runaway Government spending… The best way to control spending is to make people pay for it out of their pocket. Because then I guarantee you conservatives will be able to get elected to Congress.”

In addition Mr. Price is in favor of creating a “Sovereign Wealth Fund.” He defined this as replacing the Social Security tax payments to the Government with an investment of the funds into a diversified stock market portfolio. When asked how to mitigate the market risk that would apply to the funds, Mr. Price explained that he felt that the security of Treasury bonds limited returns, and a balanced portfolio would mitigate losses even in the face of bear markets like the most recent loss of $1 trillion since the start of the year.

“Instead of buying Treasury bills, the old famous lock box, why not invest that money… By putting this pension money in the market we’ll get a much better return…”

The interview also touched upon the issue of the 2nd Amendment. Mr. Price stated his support, with a emphasis on self-defense. We were not able to delve deeper into that issue due to the time constraints of the call.

“More gun control is not the answer to crime. The problem in America is drugs which produces tons of criminal behavior and it’s also a problem of our culture. We increasingly have a culture that celebrates death rather than life… I believe it is a fundamental human right of all human beings to be able to defend themselves… As for the issue of gun control, we shouldn’t worry about gun control as much as we should worry about cultural control.”

One of the issues that we highlighted in our previous article, the question of secession of Upstate NY, also came up in the discussion. Mr. Price noted that he continues to support a split in New York State (with Upstate NY joining Pennsylvania) but that his run for congress is not an attempt to bring that issue to the public’s attention. He stated he is focused on addressing the needs of the public, with secession being a separate issue to be handled via Congress in the future.

“I still believe in secession 110%, but I’m not running for Congress to be the first secessionist in Congress since before the Civil War… I’m not using this as a publicity stunt.”

We were also able to address the Price campaign itself. Thus far the Federal Election Commission (FEC) threshold of $5,000 in campaign funds has not been reached. There was no timeframe given to us on when a campaign website would be available to the public. Mr. Price also does not have ground support across the 8 counties that, in part or whole, comprise the NY-22. Given these complications, Mr. Price expects to continue to have commercials on radio and a more public presentation shortly.

This brought up the question why Mr. Price has not address the public more directly on his candidacy. He noted that he believed that a new approach was needed for this campaign. He believes that the commercials were an initial phase of the campaign, and is now reaching out to the news media (and thus this exclusive first interview).

“When I look at how campaigns are run, I decided to do things a little differently… I thought the best way to do that is to reach out to the public first, through the medium of radio.”

At this point, surprisingly, Aaron Price has provided more information about his views and political positions than George Phillips. Mr. Phillips has declined for weeks to provide any of the news media any details about his congressional campaign. Democrat David Gordon has equally been as silent on his positions and public access as has been Mr. Phillips. Still, the frontrunner Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, remains the only candidate that has a clear and public disclosure of policy positions – via campaign website, news interviews, and a voting record.

We again invite all the candidates for the New York 22nd Congressional District, of both parties, to have an interview via any medium they prefer (video, phone, email). We reiterate our dedication to provide the public with information on this race and the candidates, so that the public can make an informed decision on their choices.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

One down, two in, and three to go in NY congressional race

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

** As written previously by Michael “Vass” Vasquez for Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **

In November 2015, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney stepped up and announced that she would seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 congressional race for the 22nd District in New York. At the time, incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna was expected to seek re-election and was considered the underdog after making several very public attacks on the Republican Party and a well quoted support of Hillary Clinton. But in a move that caught the establishment leadership of the Republican Party off-guard, Rep. Hanna announced his retirement at the end of 2016. This left the NY-22 race wide open. Rumors on potential challengers followed quickly.

Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus

Pundits and political commentators started to evaluate the likely names to step up. This process highlighted a key factor of the NY-22 district. There is an extreme separation from the northern and southern portions of the district. Politics in the 2 poles rarely mixed, with little attention given to leading names outside their own local region. The only clear exceptions to this were Rep. Hanna, and Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who both ran in the de facto election that was the Republican primary in 2014. Democrats failed to put a candidate on the ballot, effectively making the Republican primary a winner take all race.

Names rumored to be likely candidates to challenge the frontrunner Assemblywoman Tenney, included: Michael Backus out of Oswego County; Catherine Bertini out of Cortland County; Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi from Oneida County; and Anthony Picente Jr. also of Oneida County.

What has been happening is a far cry from what many expected though. For Democrats, former 1-term Legislator David Gordon charged forward while Assemblyman Brindisi vacillated on his interest in challenging Republicans in the strongly Republican district. That surprise was quickly followed by the discovery that in Broome County, a candidate from a congressional race in 2010 had arose from nowhere. George Phillips, who lost to Rep. Maurice Hinchey twice, and resigned from an appointed Legislator seat in less than a year, suddenly became the 3rd candidate, and the first to attempt to challenge Assemblywoman Tenney. Candidates were appearing from the fringes that had little name recognition and even less documented positions on the major issues that are affecting the nation at this time.

But the impact of these virtual unknowns, as well as the continued strength of Assemblywoman Tenney, is being felt in political circles. One of the potential candidates expected to throw his hat into the race, the Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus, has on January 15, 2016,  bowed out of the race. His reason is the same used by Rep. Hanna about his retirement – concern about his family.

“This decision came down to what is best for my family.”

At the time of the announcement of his retreat, Mr. Backus also put forth a clue about the nature of the discussion occurring among Republican County leadership. In comments to the Auburnpub.com, Mr. Backus further said,

“I still strongly believe that this country needs a new generation of common sense leadership and we, as a nation, need leaders who ignore party labels and find solutions to our most challenging problems. Together, we must send someone to Washington who will vote with the best interest of NY-22 at heart and work in collaboration with their colleagues. That’s the kind of person I’ll be voting for both in the primary and the general election.”

Who Mr. Backus may be indicating is unclear, but could indicate a preference to Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. While George Phillips would be a new face in politics to more than two-thirds of the NY-22, his stance on the issues facing the nation are unknown. Mr. Phillips has repeatedly declined to answer news media requests to explain his platform or how he would vote on the majority of issues that have been headline news in the 6 years since he last was in the public eye. There is also no published or searchable statements on critical issues like the NY SAFE Act; Obamacare; hydrofracking; illegal immigration; and Executive Orders by President Obama by Mr. Phillips (including his campaign website).

Given this, Assemblywoman Tenney appears to better fit the description. She is known for her attempts to bring disgraced former Assembly leader Sheldon Silver to task years before charges were leveled by US District Attorney Preet Bahara. She is well known for her fiscal conservatism in regard to the NY State budgets presented by Governor Andrew Cuomo. She is an outspoken defender of 2nd Amendment rights as noted by Gun Owners of America, SCOPE NY, and the NRA. Finally, Assemblywoman Tenney has secured the powerful endorsement of Citizens United.

Still, there is no definitive answer on what Mr. Backus meant. But it is clear that there is one less potential candidate to enter the race. Considering the fact that petitions will be sought starting March 8, 2016, and the relative unknown status of the remaining potential candidates, the full range of candidates are likely to be decided before the end of January, if not in the coming week.

** Update – since this article was first published Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. have each bowed out of the NY-22 race. In addition, Aaron Price, an unknown Republican, has announced his intent to run. Speculation about political donor Steve Wells (Republican) and Broome County Legislator Kim Myers (Democrat) entering the race have gain strength. **

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Following up on the growing tension in Turkey

By Michael Vass | January 29, 2016

** As written previously by Michael “Vass” Vasquez for Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **

In July 2015, we discussed a potential future problem for America and the Middle East. The article, Following a familiar pattern, Syrian Kurds could be the next Middle East threat, stated that in the effort to fight ISIS and remove Syrian President Assad the Obama Administration is helping to destabilize the region. Specifically the key concern is the support of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the evolving nature of the tensions in the region.

Image of Syrian Kurd group YPG

The political connections and military actions of various groups involved in the Syrian civil war is similar to a spider web. Tendrils of mutual support and shared ideology reach out to splinter groups, complicating any US actions in the region. Thus the US support of Syrian Kurds (known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG) is connected to the PKK. The Turkish government considers the PKK a terrorist group, and that the YPG is directly aligned with the PKK. That connection is disputed by Russia and the US.

The Obama Administration, in October 2015, scrapped its plan to directly train Syrian rebels as frontline ground troops to fight ISIS and Prime Minister Assad’s forces. The program had cost $560 million and only created 60 troops, many of which abandoned fighting and surrendered supplies to ISIS directly. In response the Obama Administration embarked in a new plan of supporting existing anti-Assad organizations, which includes the YPG in Turkey.

This support of the YPG (and potentially the PKK) has raised tensions with Turkey. According to a report by Amnesty International, October 13, 2015, the YPG has conducted “forced displacement and unlawful demolitions” of civilians. Amnesty International believes this is a violation of international humanitarian law.

As recently as January 7, 2016, it was reported that the Turkish government was sharing its concerns of Kurdish expansion. The US has reiterated its desire to have ISIS contained to Syria, with the Kurds being a key part of securing the Turkish border. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan authorized raids in Kurdish portions of Turkey that resulted in 300 members of the PKK being killed, as well as bombing Northern Syria – where Kurds have alleged civilians were targeted, which Turkey denies.

On January 13, 2016, the PKK allegedly set of car bombs in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır province, killing 39 including 3 children. The US immediately denounced the attack. The next day, the PKK is alleged to have attacked 8 schools  – no injuries or loss of life were reported in these attacks.

In the meantime ISIS has continued its efforts. A suicide bomber, who had infiltrated Turkey as a Syrian refugee and cleared background checks. The bomber, Nabil Fadli. set off a bomb killing 10 German tourists and injured 11 others in Istanbul.

This back and forth between the PKK, the YPG, Turkish and Syrian forces (as well as ISIS from time to time) is growing even more complicated with the entrance of Russia in the conflict. Historically Russia has had close relations with the Kurds, and recent military action by Russia has emboldened the YPG. As reported by the Wall Street Journal on January 14, 2016, the YPG has broken a Turkish ‘red line’, taking territory from ISIS on the western bank of the Euphrates. This has caused a situation where, as stated by Andrew Tabler, Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,

“So now it seems that the Kurds can play Russia and America off against each other.”

The potential for further destabilization in this part of the Middle East appears to be growing. The conflict between the US and its NATO ally Turkey is widening, even as the US is being drawn into a battle of influence with Russia. The spider web of factions and mixed regional interests is getting more tangled with the US deeply entrenched at every turn. While national attention may be firmly focused on ISIS, the stage for future conflict in the region is largely being ignored.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

NY Times misconstrues meaning of word “few”

By Michael Vass | January 20, 2016

The definition of few is defined as “not many persons or things.” The overwhelming (99%) majority of Americans understand this without question. But it would appear that the NY Times is not among the majority. At least that is the conclusion to be drawn from the January 20, 2016 article Few Foreign Visitors to U.S. Overstay Visa, Federal Report Says.

According to the NY Times, 450,000 is a “few”. Specifically, the number of people who have entered America and overstayed their visas and many have disappeared within the nation. This figure is derived from a Homeland Security report (that is 20 YEARS past due from when it was supposed to first be presented to Congress).

To be fair, 450,000 people is only 1% of the 45 million people that have entered the US on visas. But to confuse a small percentage with a massive number of people is blatantly gimmicking the news to benefit a political agenda, in my opinion. That’s like saying the Lotto was $45 million and you just won a few dollars – $450,000. That would change your life. Because 450,000 of anything can never be confused with “few”. To put it in a figure context, slightly more people have illegally overstayed their visas and are now illegal immigrants than the number of people that attended Woodstock in 1969.

400,000 people attended Woodstock in 1969

400,000 people attended Woodstock in 1969, which is smaller than the number who have overstayed their visas and are in the US

It would seem that this is obviously an attempt to obfuscate a troubling reality. The Federal government has failed in its job to protect the nation. Sanctuary Cities have failed their residents by hiding and protecting illegal aliens from just enforcement of laws. But with a presidential election, as well as State and local elections, on the hook a declaration of reality is a political handicap. Luckily, millions have stopped reading articles in favor of 30 second soundbites and a scan of headlines. An absence of a photo (considered essential for online news coverage) further dissuades reading the details.

The reason why this matters? If just 1% of 1% of the total number of people that received a visa had malicious intent, that’s 4,500 troublemakers. Considering it only took 2 Islamic radicals to kill 14 in San Bernadino, and 19 to cause 9/11, the total missing is not only the direct opposite of “few” it is scary.

For the NY Times to insult the intelligence of the public in this manner is depressing. The fact that the only discernible reason for such deceptive wording is the political gain of a very select group of people is enraging. The fact that 450,000 people are hidden in the nation illegally is a direct attack on the safety of the nation and inexcusable. No matter how the NY Times tries to excuse it.


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Rating 3.00 out of 5

Facebook Commentary: Collected thoughts on Iran capturing US sailors

By Michael Vass | January 14, 2016

Recent series of Facebook comments, by Michael “Vass” Vasquez”, on the developing international event of Iran capturing 10 US sailors and 2 naval vessels:

Image of US sailors under captivity by Iran
January 12, 20164:46pm

“I hate to say that the absolute commitment to the Iran nuke deal – absolving Iran of missile test violations and more – has led to the capture (or detainment) of 10 sailors and our ship.”

At 5:30pm

“Mark my words, if President Obama walks back this action by Iran, we will see an attempt to lock down Strait M of Hormuz in a month or so. This is a test of our resolve and the desire for positive history book listing. There can only be one choice and what POTUS picks will put the nation on a path we cannot divert from.”

January 13, 20163:03am

“I can’t believe that President Obama completely avoided the 10 sailors taken by Iran. But then again he won’t talk about the Philly cop either. Guess our military in foreign hands just won’t make the cut on his partisan agenda. A real commander-in-chief there. Iran and ISIS must be shaking in their boots.”

at 4:05am

“So this may be the reason why President Obama did not mention the 10 sailors being held under arrest in Iran. You will likely NOT see this in American media. According to the BBC,
“The US has apologised to Iran after 10 American sailors were arrested for entering Iranian waters, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards naval forces has said…

Gen Fadavi said “Mr Zarif had a firm stance, saying that they were in our territorial waters and should not have been, and saying that they [the US] should apologize. This has been done and it will not take long, and the naval force, according to its hierarchy, will act immediately upon the orders it receives…”

It would seem that President Obama opted to remain silent to allow Secretary Kerry the chance to apologize without upsetting Iran. While it may allow the Sailors to be released as soon as the 13th, I fear that it will further embolden the nation that shot rockets at US ships just a couple of weeks ago.

Also, the question must be asked, is there ANYTHING that Iran could do that would cause the Obama Administration to revoke the nuke deal? It would appear the priority is on how near-term history books record the efforts of the Obama Administration, over the potential long-term damage that may be caused.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35299930″

January 14, 20169:47am

“Where are the priorities of the Obama Administration on international policy? This may be a clue – from Secretary John Kerry -
“if we are able to do this in the right way it would be a good story for both of us.”

In other words, the capture and embarrassment of the US sailors for the benefit of Iran (the photos are a show of strength), is a political chip to be used to promote the Iran nuke deal (that Iran violated already when it did the ICBM missile tests).

Yes, the failure of Pres. Obama to mention the 10 sailors at SOTU, followed by a quick AMERICAN apology, got our soldiers back and preserved the Nuke deal. It equally elevates the power of Iran, and decimates the power of the US. But, to Kerry this is a positive.

It would seem the priority of the Obama Admin is not our military, not Middle East peace, not preventing the leading supporter of world terror from being enabled. The priority is getting short-term political spin and an entry in the history books. That’s not desperate, its not flawed policy, it’s shameful and destructive.

http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-told-iran-sailor-capture-could-made-good-193520880.html”

The comments found on Facebook are the personal thoughts of M V Consulting, Inc president Michael Vasquez.

Rating 3.00 out of 5