For those that want to know more about Michael Vasquez, his views for Congress, where he will be speaking and media coverage of the 2014 NY Congressional elections visit:
To read about events on the campaign trail, and Michael Vasquez’s comments about current events and issues affecting constituents in the NY 22nd Congressional District visit:
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The following is video of the full speech, as well as Q&A, for Michael “Vass” Vasquez. Mr. Vasquez has stated he will be launching an exploratory committee to evaluate a run for the 22nd Congressional District – currently held by fellow Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.
Mr. Vasquez is the president of M V Consulting Inc. and a writer to this blog. Due to the conflict of interest, Mr. Vasquez will no longer be providing his political commentary or reporting while pursuing a path to elected office. In addition, Mr. Vasquez will be ceasing his work for the Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com.
Speech given outside of the Broome County Courthouse
Q & A with Peter Quinn of WBGH
Q & A with YNN
Further information about the exploratory committee and the efforts of Mr. Vasquez to pursue elected office can be found at http://exploratory.electmichaelvasquez.com
Hello and thank you all for joining me today.
Many of you may know me as Michael Vass, my business name found on the thousands of articles and political commentary I have written over the past 7 years, found in virtually all search engines. But today I want to introduce myself with my actual name of Michael Vasquez. Because now is the time for full disclosure and forthright answers. Because now we must expect more, and deserve to get more.
Back when I was a stockbroker in the 1990′s, I registered Michael Vass as my business name with the SEC. Since that time I have continued to used it in all my business ventures, including my political commentary. Writing about politics can often stir many emotions, and the internet is a vast place where some react in less than savory ways. Sometimes these negative reactions can even lead to real world extremes and danger. But as of today I am giving up this layer of protection, because voters in the NY 22nd District deserve to know who is speaking to them.
Over nearly a decade I have been actively reporting and following issues from the local to the international level. I have written literally tens of thousands of words, conveying both the problems facing the nation as well as the efforts of our elected officials to resolve these issues. Often, like many of us all, I have felt the frustration as political gridlock stalled efforts and legislation after legislation either went unread or was altered such that it became ineffective. For more than a decade Congress has garnered ever lower approval ratings. The net result is a Government that is failing the populace.
Like others in the news media and over the internet, I have made great effort to convert the polispeak that is common in Government, and delved into more than just the 30 second soundbites that pass for explanations of what is being done on behalf of constituents. I have interviewed elected officials and candidates of both Parties, and presented unedited video so a complete record is available to the public.
The hope was that this added attention could help to promote a renewed accountability among elected officials – but even with the full weight of the internet and news media, Government continues to act without connection to the average American.
It’s because of this lack of connection, this inaction, this ineptitude if we want to be really honest, that I first considered running for elected office. The fact that 47% of Congress, which includes members of both Parties, are millionaires, and more than a 1/3 are career politicians, added to my thoughts. The fact that some 59% of the public (according to recent polls) feel the nation is on the wrong path, solidified my conviction and confirmed my feelings. As this day approached, I drew inspiration from the past.
103 years ago today, President Theodore Roosevelt made a historic speech. That speech conveyed an important message – the man in the arena. He said,
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I take from that speech the need for average Americans to be directly involved with how Government is run. To ensure that Government, at all levels, is accountable and responsive to the needs of the public. Because career politicians and millionaires, good people that they are, are not the average American living day-to-day with the concerns of the masses. They do not feel the impact of their decisions in the same way that your family and friends and children feel it. That does not make them bad people as some insist, but it does make them out of touch and unconnected to the needs of the voters they represent.
Congress needs to reconnect to the public it serves. Government must be reminded that its purpose is to provide only what the public cannot. Those in elected office, and those that would seek it, must raise the bar on what is to be expected, strived for, and achieved.
Thus it is in the spirit of one of the great American Presidents, on the anniversary of his speech praising the sweat and labor of the average American, that I am launching my exploratory committee for the 2014 NY 22nd Congressional seat.
In the coming weeks and months I look forward to meeting with the constituents of the NY 22nd District. I look forward to sharing my views and making sure that the 2014 election is about the concerns of voters and their needs. That the election will be about getting these things done, improving the quality of life for this generation and those to come.
For those interested in learning more about me, I suggest my website http://exploratory.electmichaelvasquez.com or come see me speaking across the 22nd District.
As voters we expect more, and in 2014 let’s get it.
On April 21, 2013, Brooks BBQ set up shop at 4433 Vestal Pkwy East in the Miller Motors location, across the Vestal Parkway from the Binghamton University main entrance. The goal of the event was to raise money for the Wendy’s Walk for Kids, helping to raise $225,000 in donations to the charity for 2013.
Wendy’s Walk for Kids was started in May 2009, as a way to combine the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open and the PGA with a means to raise funds for local children in need. Charities that will receive funds from this year’s efforts include:
In 2012 there was $190,000 raised and distributed to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York, Broome County YMCA, and Catholic Charities of Broome County.
The event today started at 11am and continued until 2pm. The featured meals were Chicken ($10) or Rib ($12) dinners that included a baked potato, cole slaw, a dinner roll and butter, as well a choice of lemonade or iced tea.
The success of the event can be seen in the number of people we photographed waiting to enter the event at noon. More than 100 residents of Broome County patronized the event in just the first hour. Brooks BBQ cooks were kept busy trying to keep up with the demand, and volunteers were active and cheerfully on top of cleanup and serving visitors.
While the Brooks BBQ fundraiser did not raise the $225,000 target for the year by itself, the contribution and success of the event is sure to move the bar closer to that goal and will definitely help children throughout Broome County.
As many readers are likely aware, there has been a slow but steady drop-off in the volume of articles that have appeared here since the beginning of the year. Perhaps that has been most obvious in the wake of the Boston Bombing, or the debates over immigration reform and the Sequester. It’s not because we don’t have an opinion, are bashful, or afraid to comment.
What can be said at this time is that there will be an official announcement on April 23, 2013. M V Consulting Inc president Michael “Vass” Vasquez will be speaking at 2pm at the gazebo located next to the Broome County Courthouse (92 Court Street Binghamton NY 13905) to explain exactly why this blog has been so quiet of late. Suffice to say, big things are on the horizon.
That’s why we finished the lingering issue of the cost of golf for President Obama. It’s why we have held back speaking on multiple issues. But we are eager to get to the speech and the opportunity that lies after it.
We have invited press from across Central New York to the event. The weather forecast looks to be holding up and in our favor. Some will be surprised. Some will think its about time. A few will wonder what we waited for. We hope that in the end, everyone will have something to say.
3 days and a few hours to go. Not long at all.
Amazingly, 24 hours after we published Why won’t the White House answer the question? the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided a response to our FOIA request. Whether by coincidence, or out of embarrassment, a mere 21 days after our request we have learned the answer to the question of how much a round of golf for President Obama costs.
Just to review, before we present the verbatim response of the OMB, the mission of this Government Agency is
“OMB is the largest component of the Executive Office of the President. It reports directly to the President and helps a wide range of executive departments and agencies across the Federal Government to implement the commitments and priorities of the President.”
Golf is a priority for President Obama. With more than 115 rounds played in just over 4 years, in the company of Tiger Woods no less, there is no question that the President is an avid duffer. We do not question the need of the President to enjoy time away from the stress of running Government, nor are we questioning the amount of time he spends playing golf. The only question being asked is the cost that taxpayers are covering.
With 21 days to research, and a staff of an unknown number of Government employees, the net response on April 17, 2013 was as follows:
Dear Mr. Vass,
This responds to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) dated march 26, 2013, which was received on March 27, 2013, and assigned tracking number 2013-104. Your FOIA seeks “…details of the cost, per round of golf and/or in total, for President Obama to play golf since January 1, 2009.” In addition you requested, “the same figures for President G.W. Bush golf outings from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2008.”
In response to your FOIA request, OMB conducted a search of its files for documents that are responsive to the request and no records responsive to your request were identified.
If you consider this response to be a denial of your request, you may file an administrative appeal in accordance with OMB’s FOIA regulations at 5 C.F.R. 1303.
So let’s look at this step by step.
The OMB did not deny that, as stated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), they are the agency that would have the records requested. Further, the OMB did not cite any law or regulation that would prevent disclosure of the information requested. Thus we made the FOIA request of the right people, and the information is essentially public domain.
Based on the response, and the fact that 21 days passed before response, there does not exist a single record of the cost for President Obama, or President Bush for that matter, playing golf. No receipts, no records of hourly wages for staff, no cost of gasoline for transportation, no cost of guests like Tiger Woods. Not even a record of the cost of a single golf ball used by the President (which assuredly is emblazoned with the White House symbol).
So that would mean either the President was comped and played for free, without a single taxpayer dime being used – which is absurd – or someone paid all the costs associated with the President playing 115 rounds of golf. There is of course the third option that the OMB is so inefficient that it cannot determine the cost of a round of golf, over an entire term of a Presidency, for any President ever.
The argument can be made that golf courses, and even guests, would readily absorb the cost for the President to play at their location. It’s big advertising to say that the President birdied this or that hole. There is almost no one, even for those that vehemently disagree with the policies of the President, that would turn down an invitation from the White House. So that could all be taxpayer-free money. But it is unlikely. Especially 115 times.
Even if it were absolutely the case, what about employees. Staff get paid hourly, and not everyone that would be at such an event would be without overtime benefits. Taking it to the extreme to say that every member of the staff at such an event were salaried employees of the Government (Secret Service are exempt from all of this) there was no cost to the Government for transportation? Air Force One, the Presidential Limo? They all are running on some super secret “green” energy fuel that requires no cost, ever?
So that is incomprehensible. Which leaves us with the next option, who else could have paid for it? Imagine the influence that any corporation, or political group would have if they covered the cost from donuts to jet fuel. If it only cost $1,000 a round (which is inconceivable) that’s $115,000 in spending that special interest X would like a return on. What might they get in return. Where are all the Government watchdog groups that look out for this kind of influence peddling?
Lastly, we are left with the thought that the OMB is so irresponsible that it cannot read an accounting book and transcript the notations. Even the most ardent detractor of Government cannot begin to believe that is true.
Thus we are back where we started. No answers from the people that have the answer. A White House that is determined to avoid the issue at all costs. Plus the nagging question of why this is such a big secret. Somehow we believe that Senator Obama wasn’t preaching this kind of transparency while on the campaign trail in 2008.
You might say this is not a big deal. But the New York Times doesn’t have the answer. Nor the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post has zilch. Name the organization and you get nada. Even ABC News, that started this whole thing, remains oblivious to the truth. Now imagine if President Bush tried to keep such an issue away from the Press. Imagine what else is being obfuscated and distracted from public declaration.
FOIA is meant as a way to keep the average American connected to what Government is doing. It is meant as a means to allow the public to keep an eye on Government, a means to prevent abuses of power and retard corruption. Yet an issue that is as close to national security as Pluto is to the Sun remains enshrouded in mystery.
The only conclusion that can be derived is that President Obama plays golf for free, and that there is fantastic beachfront property available in the Mohave Desert. Even the Far Left should be disturbed.
At the American Legion Post 80 in Binghamton, New York, local business owner Ed Hickey made it official. With a crowd of some 125 supporters and friends, Ed Hickey announced his intention to run for Mayor of the City of Binghamton as a Republican, and with the Eagle Party that he helped create.
Ed Hickey is a father of 3 and the owner of 2 bars in Binghamton – Fitzie’s Pub and The Belmar. He is also well known for his charitable donations and annual events like the 2010 Red Bull skateboarding competition and the 2009 BMX Challenge which draw hundreds into the Binghamton downtown area from across Broome County and further. Hickey, as he stated to the crowd, is a near life-long member of the community, and anything but a politician. Even so, his answers to the questions of the assembled news media left little doubt to the direction that he wants to take Binghamton.
Ed Hickey didn’t just draw news media attention. Among the 125 that we counted were a collection of Democrats, Republicans, and Independants. The ages ranged from more than a few babies, young adults in their 20′s, to retirees. Almost every ethnicity and any other demographic used to identify the residents of the City of Binghamton were apparently represented in the event. Whether this was due to the appeal of Ed Hickey or the Eagle Party – a political party created as a union of Left and Right wing ideals (the slogan of which is “It takes a Left and Right wing to soar”) – or a combination of both is unclear at this moment, but it is sure to catch the attention of Democrats and Republicans alike.
Ultimately, almost all other news media left the venue before Ed Hickey spoke to the assembled supporters. The complete speech by Ed Hickey can be seen exclusively here, without edit of that speech.
With this announcement, the pressure has increased for Democrats with current Mayor Matt Ryan unable to run due to term limit restrictions. Republicans are also faced with the question of backing Hickey or presenting another candidate (possibly Rich David) – which could mean a Primary battle as well as still potentially having a 3-way race in November. No matter what the major political parties decide, it is clear that the presumed underdog of the race holds an enviable position with regard to diversity among voters, if the supporters at the event are any indication of the appeal of Ed Hickey.
The one thing that voters and constituents of the City of Binghamton can be assured of, is that the summer will be anything but boring.
32 days ago, President Obama was asked a question. It was simple and direct. Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked how much does a round of golf for President Obama cost? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney balked at the question. That’s when we picked up the issue.
After a search of public records, we sent the following question to the GAO on March 20th
“To whom it may concern,
I am a member of the press, writing for the Examiner.com and M V Consulting, Inc. I am looking for details of the cost, per round of golf and/or in total, for President Obama to play golf since January 1, 2009. In addition, I would also request the same figures for President G.W. Bush golf outings from Jan 1, 2001 to December 31, 2008. These figures are for research and articles that are on-going at this time.
These records should include – where possible – cost of Secret Service, staff, other security, any remunerations to golf courses and staff, cost of special guests, fuel costs to transport the President and entourage, and/or any other special services attached to that event.
If the GAO does not have these records and another Department or Agency does have this information, we ask for the contact information to whomever we should be speaking with. If there is specific legislation that prevents disclosure of part and/or the total of the records we have requested, we ask for the specific title of that legislation.
I thank you for your efforts in this matter.
By March 21st Karen Holliday, Disclosure Information Specialist of GAO/Audit Policy and Quality Assurance confirmed that they had received our FOIA request. On March 26th, Ms. Holliday notified us that the GAO did not have the information we had requested and directed us to the OMB – specifically FOIA Officer Dionne Hardy.
That same day, we sent a duplicate letter to the OMB, requesting the exact same information. On March 27th, Ms. Hardy responded with an acknowledgement of our FOIA request – reference OMB FOIA number 13-104.
As of this article, there has yet to be a response. We have not been told that the information is restricted. We have not been directed to another department of the Government. We have been left wanting.
For more than a month, the Obama Administration remains incapable of answering a simple question – which only needs to be looked up as the answer exists in an accounting book somewhere in the Government.
This leads to either one of 2 answers:
- The Obama Administration is inept, and cannot find the information to disclose.
- The Obama Administration is unwilling to provide this information.
Either is a disturbing conclusion. Let’s address the first conclusion.
If the Obama Administration is inept, the worst fears of detractors have been realized. Worse is the fact that the OMB is also culpable in this inefficiency. While it would explain the haphazard manner in which the Government has enacted the Sequester cuts, it invariably means that the nation is in dire fiscal straits. A government that cannot deduce the simplest of accounting matters is a government that cannot resolve any economic issue. The problem in fact would not just be that of the current Administration, but systemic.
Such a scenario lends itself to the reason why decades of inaction have presided over resolving the national debt. It further supports why current attempts to address the debt are merely attempts to slow down the increases in spending, not an actual reduction or repayment of the debt.
The consequences of this scenario are far too dark for us to consider, and we reject that wholesale. For all the political double talk and accounting nightmares, the US economy is watched far too closely by an enormous number of organizations, countries, and individuals to be so akin to Enron.
Scenario 2 leaves us with a scandal. What is the OMB hiding? What does the White House not want revealed? Why? How much is President Obama spending in taxpayer dollars on golf outings?
The lack of transparency, from an Administration that swore to voters in 2008 it would be the most transparent ever, almost demands a conspiracy theory to fill the void of actual information.
Is the Obama Administration afraid of the backlash from ending tours of the White House? Are they trying to preserve political capital and avoid an onslaught of criticism from fiscal Conservatives and blue dog Democrats alike? Is this an attempt to preserve the approval rating of the President as he tries to enact legislation on immigration, gun restriction, and cyber terrorism almost simultaneously? Are they simply waiting for the entire issue to die and pass from the minds of the public before a single document is issued? If the Government is stonewalling a response on a simple matter like this, what else is the Government unwilling to disclose – especially from the “most” transparent Presidency “ever”?
There are a lot more questions that can be asked. All of them are valid and potentially accurate in the absence of any response. Which makes a response all the more necessary, and will keep this issue alive – at least with us.
Our Government should always be accountable to the public. When it is not, no matter how well loved by the media, that Administration must be asked, demanded if necessary, to explain itself. We think that a former Senator from Illinois agreed with that belief at one time. Unlike that former Senator, apparently, we still do.
There are 22.3 million Americans unofficially without work, more than 4.8 million of which have not officially had work for more than 27 weeks. There are 1.4 million homes in foreclosure. Payroll taxes increased an average of 2% of the average person getting a paycheck January 2013. But, President Obama is now going to give up $20,000 of his reported $789,674 income because of the Sequester.
That’s the full context. Well almost. The Sequester, created by the White House and Congress, will cut $85 billion in Government spending. So far over 2,000 illegal aliens that were held by the Department of Homland Security were released. Tours of the White House have been cancelled. Thousands of federal workers are being furloughed. The impact, according to the White House, will be harsh by the time the full year is done. Thus President Obama will give up 5% of his pay, to share in the burden millions of Americans are experiencing from his, and Congress, inaction on the deficit and budget.
“[T]he president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury.”
It is a wonderful ploy at connecting with the average American. But it is a ploy.
President Obama makes roughly 14x the median income based on 2011 figues ($50,500). He doesn’t pay rent/mortgage, transportation, or food expenses. That means his actual income is even greater than Americans that do pay those mandatory costs. A loss of 50% of the President’s income has 0 effect on his ability to live while in the White House. Also, President Obama is a millionaire and will NOT become impoverished upon the end of his presidency.
But this is a connection to the public. This is reaching out to show an understanding of the difficult economy.
Where was that understanding when official unemployment was 10.1%. Where was it when 2 million foreclosures were occuring. Where was it when long-term unemployment was so high checks had to be extended to 99 weeks?
From 2009 – 2013, this year, President Obama has played 115 rounds of golf. We are awaiting a response to our FOIA request for the cost of those rounds of golf, but where was the connection then?
When Warren Buffett insisted on higher taxes, without volunteering a single dollar of his own considerable wealth, President Obama was a millionaire who also never volunteered a dime to the IRS. The deficit was $15 trillion. The national debt was increasing by more than $1 trillion a year. Where was the connection to the public then?
It isn’t that the President shouldn’t be paid well to be the leader of the free world. It isn’t that a President shouldn’t have the ability to de-stress from the pressure and responsibility of running the nation. But to suddenly, in the face of political embarrassment over economic policy enacted by the President and Congress, state that giving up $20,000 (only out of his direct pay for being President, not his total income) is sharing in the pain of the current economic cycle is insulting.
This is political grandstanding. When placed into context, either President Obama had no connection or concern with the plight of the average American from 2009 right up til April 2013 or the belief is that the American people are too stupid to notice that this is a meaningless act meant to gain political favor.
Either way, it is far too little far too late.
There has long been a debate, among Liberals and Conservatives, to describe those who enter America without permission, against the immigration laws, without documentation, and actively evade legal authorities. For Liberals such a person is merely an “undocumented worker”. For Conservatives that person has been called an illegal alien or illegal immigrant. Wading into this fight is the Associated Press (AP), which has changed its rules on how such persons will be described – illegal immigrants is to be dropped.
This is no small act of semantics. The power of what is being described and how perceptions are created or altered is huge. The perception of an “undocumented” immigrant or worker is one of a paperwork error. There is no criminal intent, no legal recourse. It is a means to dissuade argument and fool the less perceptive into an acceptance of something that they otherwise might not approve. It is a deception to enable an, in this case politically motivated, objective.
On the other end of the spectrum, the use of the term illegal immigrant is not the opposite but an accurate description of a criminal behavior and the persons committing that crime. As Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated,
Not only is this change in reporting by the AP a critical difference in the way that the public is meant to understand the issue at hand , but the timing is something that must be observed.
The Obama Administration has used Executive Orders to circumvent standing immigration law – allowing more than a million illegal aliens to continue to stay in America. Many of these are criminals that have been caught and were being prepared to be deported from the nation, as the law requires. The decision was not that of Congress, but the Executive Branch in its sole discretion. Effectively it superimposed the preferences of a single person, the President, onto the nation for the benefit of political activism and the Democrat Party.
This action, and the results of the 2012 election where some 75% of Hispanics voted Democrat, led to the current push to create an immigration reform law. Both political parties want to lay claim to being the Party that creates some 11 – 12 million new voters. More than enough voters to sway elections in national and State elections.
The problem facing both political parties is a very real observation that illegal immigrants have broken the law. That to provide citizenship to those that have in some cases evaded prosecution for their crimes for decades is to reward and therefore promote this crime. The wording only serves to reinforce the reality of their politically motivated legislation.
Then the AP changes its long standing position. A position that replaces the very description that the Secretary of Homeland Security believes is accurate with
“Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?”
Thus an illegal immigrant might now be described as illegal French Canadian border crossing backpackers. Or perhaps illegal Greek former students. Or some other lengthy obfuscating and ultimately less consequence laden descriptions. No matter the new term (Unauthorized migrant seems to be the new catchphrase) the result is a distancing from the crime being purposively enacted and any retribution or legal action.
Words are power. The words used are a direct connection to the way the mind thinks. Illegal and criminal are terms that lead a mind to think of repercussions and legal action. Unauthorized migrant makes a person think of paperwork errors and bureaucratic red tape. They are not the same.
Why not call a drug dealer a herbal distributor? Because of the crime committed and the consequence of that crime. We could call a mugger a redistributor of social wealth, except for the crime of their actions. The terms used to describe a criminal and a criminal action are not kind and they aren’t supposed to be. Society cannot function if crimes are condoned. The stigma attached to these terms is a reminder that laws are to be followed, not broken.
When accurate and legally definitive terms are effectively restricted from use, that is not only an attack on the First Amendment it is an act of mind control. It is subversive, in our opinion, to actively change a perception of reality for the mere purpose of political gain.
We agree with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, this is simple. Illegal immigrants have committed a crime and need to be described as such. If politicians want to change the law they should do so without subversive tactics and obfuscation – and the blessing of constituents on the reality of their proposed legislation not the media picking a side.
But what do you think? Should people who actively break the law, and evade prosecution for that crime, be rewarded? Should they be renamed to avoid hurting the feelings of the criminals? Should the laws of the nation only apply when politically expedient?