Should illegal aliens be allowed to join US military? Because they are.

By Michael Vass | September 27, 2014

 DREAM Act hopefuls

Once again the consequences of the unilateral political ambitions of the White House have resulted in an outcome that the vast majority of Americans neither expected nor knew happened. Quietly, in 2009 the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program hit the ground. The MANVI program was scheduled to end September 30, 2014, but has just been extended. That extension included an expansion of the program few expected.

The MANVI program was initially a pilot program to allow the military access to legal non-citizen residents that could provide skill sets vital to the military. An example of such a skill set was foreign language or professional medical skill. The program in many ways was similar to previous programs such as under the Lodge Act of 1950, to help with the Korean War effort or the Military Bases Agreement of 1947 that allowed Filipinos to enter the Navy until 1991. A key point of the original MANVI program was that it allowed only legal immigrants, a point that changed September 25, 2014.

Due to the unilateral imposition of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) upon the nation, the MANVI program has now been modified to accept illegal aliens (or undocumented immigrants as they are referred to under DACA). It has been suggested that the change in requirements is part of a broader immigration reform policy to be enacted by President Obama, as stated by the Military Times,

“The new DoD policy may be the first phase of a broader governmentwide effort to ease pressure on immigrants and create new paths to citizenship.”

Whether or not this is the first step towards a path to citizenship, or some other aspect of the promised actions on immigration reform without the consent or authorization of Congress that President Obama has promised to enact after mid-term elections in November, remains to be seen. What is clear is that this move by the Department of Defense (DoD) has caught the attention of certain opponents and supporters of expanded rights for illegal aliens. Justin Vélez-Hagan, the founder of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, has stated,

“I know enlisted people who are getting pushed out of the service right now. It’s hard [to deal with that] and at the same time have people who aren’t in the country legally [replace them].”

In February 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed to cut 80,000 Army troops and a fleet of Air Force fighter jets, reducing the military to the smallest size in 74 years. Still the impact of MANVI, with or without illegal aliens, is small. To be exact, the MANVI is capped at a total of 1,500 people in any given year that can access the program.

There has been no word on the number of illegal aliens that would be allowed to fulfill that program cap, or if any additional restriction on illegal aliens that apply may have. Which has led supporters of DACA and granting expanded rights to illegal aliens to state, as Felipe Sousa Rodriguez, deputy managing director at United We Dream, did,

“It’s really important that this does not become a new benchmark, where the administration believes that if it gives us a new benefit that only benefits very few people it will silence our demands.”

Ultimately the final outcome of illegal aliens in the military may be resolved in November or shortly thereafter. President Obama will present the public with his immigration reform agenda. Congress (especially the House of Representatives) will weigh in on the potential Executive Branch overreach. An overreach that the Obama Administration expects may lead to impeachment proceedings. Then the public will voice its opinion in various polls. Political leaders on both sides of the issue will certainly take their cues from that.

Presidential approval is currently at 41.3%, with both Republicans (56%) and Democrats (46%) being seen as not doing a good job on immigration reform.  If the new DoD policy is a test for the November announcement, changes in polling may well tailor how and what is presented after the mid-term elections. Either way the question remains, should illegal aliens be allowed to join the military as the DoD will now allow?

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Is the FBI stacking the deck on gun violence and mass shooting stats?

By Michael Vass | September 25, 2014

** With update from our article at Binghamton Political Buzz**

2nd Amendment

The FBI release on Sept 24, 2014, a review of mass shootings from 2000 until 2013. The announcement has drawn a great deal of attention, especial from the supporters of gun restriction legislation. But the data deserves closer attention than the hype some have place on the statistics.

In a brief overview, the FBI has determined that since 2000 there has been a trend of increase in mass shooting. There were 160 incidents in the 13 year period reviewed, with an average of 11.4 incidents per year. There were a total of 1,043 people that were either injured or killed as a result of these incidents. The FBI report does not include the shooters in the injured/killed data, and a mass shooting is defined as single events where 4 or more individuals were shot and/or killed.

According to the report, in the last 7 years up to 2013, the number of mass shooting incidents increased vs. the prior 7 years – a total of 16.4 incidents per year vs. the previous 6.4 per year. This is a significant trend which many might find troubling. But there is a potential issue that arises from the data as well.

A question that should be asked is why the timeframe of the report is from 2000 to 2013? The FBI has stated this was

“To provide our law enforcement partners—normally the first responders on the scene of these dangerous and fast-moving events—with data that will help them to better prepare for and respond to these incidents, saving more lives and keeping themselves safer in the process.”

This is of course a logical reason for the report. But why not a 10 year report? Why not 20 years? Or 15? 13 years is an odd figure that doesn’t fit easily into any planning systems that most law enforcement agencies plan out in 5 or 10 year periods. Why didn’t the FBI wait 2 years to make a 15 year study, or start the data review from 2 years earlier?

In addition, the trend indicated is based on relatively short period compare to the totality of data available. According to our research in our article - How rampant are mass shootings, in 2013, the findings of Professor James Alan Fox, of Northwestern University, indicated

Over the thirty-year time frame, an average of about 20 mass murders have occurred annually in the United States with an average death toll of about 100 per year.”

This is important because Professor Fox used the same definition and criteria used by the FBI to come to his findings. The difference in results lies directly in the amount of time used to understand the trend. According to the FBI mass shootings are on the rise, but 30 year data indicates that the trend is in fact decreasing. This remains true even if only the most recent 7 year period is compared to the trend over 30 years.

Based on this contradiction in facts (with the only factors differing are 3 years and the total range of data looked at), the query leads us back to the question asked previously why did the FBI pick 13 years and 7 years? One reason may be that the answer sought can only be attained if the data is organized in this manner. It’s an old political trick that very specific figures and data are quoted because it provides the answer/justification that suits the position of the politician quoting the data. The FBI would appear to be using the same trick.

If this is the case, which would fall in line with the gun restriction position of the Obama Administration, then it is a manipulation of facts to serve a political end. If this is the case this would be tantamount to lying to the public. Clarification from the FBI on why such an exclusive data set was used, or why a more complete statistic based on the 33 year data trend available was not included, needs to be determined.

Over the past 13 years fewer mass shooting (by 8.6 incidents/year) and fewer injuries and murders as a result of these shootings (by 20 people/year) than is the 30 year historical average have occurred. That decrease in gun violence includes, and remains true, if only the past 7 years is considered. This is without gun restriction legislation promoted by Gov. Cuomo (a 2011 NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services report indicated the second lowest rate of firearm violence in a decade), President Obama and VP Joe Biden. But this will not reach the headlines of any of the major media – even though it is supported by facts omitted by the most recent FBI report.

The conclusion would seem to be that the FBI, for the benefit of a specific political agenda, has packaged a set of statistics that appear to imply an outcome not supported by a review of the totality of available data. The consequence of course will be a renewed effort to restrict assault weapons and impede the 2nd Amendment. It will likely also stimulate the continued backdoor effort to revoke gun permits and ownership via National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS), H Amd 704, and HR 4660 (as we noted in our article – House of Representatives passes Bill, enables restriction of 2nd Amendment right).

**Update – as predicted, as of this repost, there is no major news media outlet that we are aware of that have reviewed/noted or even acknowledged that statistics for mass shootings exist since 1980. Also, none of the major media questioned why the FBI presented the data with the odd timeframe, or the short-term trend figures isolated from the long-term reduction in mass shootings.**

Rating 3.50 out of 5

In with the new out with the old, is that good for NY State?

By Michael Vass | September 24, 2014

PepsiCo logo

It has long been said that New York State is a difficult State. High taxes, cold winters, plus an exodus of jobs and  population have combined to devastating effect. For 50 years New York has lost businesses and population to other States, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create START-UP NY. The concept was to draw new businesses to the State with tax exemption, but the plan may not be as well thought out as it was hoped to be.

An example of the benefit, and consequences, of START-UP NY and the continuation of high tax rates can be found in Binghamton, NY. It was once a thriving city home to manufacturers located in the Southern Tier of the State. It is now saddled with 6.7% unemployment (preliminary July 2014) – which exceeds the unemployment rate of the State. But the problem is growing.

On July 29, 2014, it was celebrated news that 5 businesses were coming to Binghamton. Less celebrated was the fact that the total number of jobs to be created were 80. Also generally unmentioned was the fact that these 5 business start-ups will not pay taxes in the State of New York for 10 years. Gov. Cuomo took the opportunity to highlight the program responsible, START-UP NY. He stated at the time,

“Governor Cuomo called it a “game-changing move” in regard to NY State’s business climate.”

Another part of the “game-changing move” was publicly announced September 23, 2014. PepsiCo released the news that it will close its beverage storehouse in November. The number of long-term jobs lost may be as high as 74. Add to this the $610,000 in 2014 that may be lost from the assessment on PepsiCo’s building in Binghamton, NY. PepsiCo has not yet announced its plans for the soon to be vacant building. Six years earlier Coca-Cola had closed its Binghamton location.

The cause of the loss of PepsiCo? Economic reasons was stated in the NY Department of Labor filing. New York ranks 50th in business friendliness, with personal, property, business, sales and unemployment insurance taxes all ranked among the worst half of all States. A situation that has persisted for years. Binghamton alone has lost 9,700 businesses since 2009 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Gov. Cuomo believes that 5 start-up companies, some in the unproven fields of energy storage and others in the crowded field of Wi-Fi, will change the game for Binghamton, and New York.

Success can be difficult to measure in some cases. Success for a business is usually profits, and potentially growth. Success for a State is in part higher revenues due to taxes on growth and profits. Binghamton is the high-stakes bet of Gov. Cuomo that losing taxes will result in new business growth even as established business departs with its history of jobs and taxes.

The future is unknown. Yet, the strategy to give up on older established businesses to accommodate unproven new companies is controversial, at best. To date it has yet to improve the business friendliness of New York, and evidently has not stopped the outward flow of business from New York.

Thus questions should be asked of Gov. Cuomo. Since START-UP NY has had minimal impact on jobs, but a bigger long-term tax footprint that affects all of New York, isn’t it time to adjust the strategy? Perhaps some effort to lower taxes and/or the over abundant number of regulations (that combined have consistently keep New York at the lowest ranks of business friendliness) could spur job growth and nudge NY from the bottom of the rankings? These are questions that Gov. Cuomo seems unwilling to address.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

And the kindara (shoe) drops…

By Michael Vass | September 19, 2014

With the approval from the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and the Senate on September 18, 2014, for the Obama Administration plan to arm Syrian rebels attention has now focused on who are the Syrian rebels. One of the key names mentioned, for the first time by a US official, by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is the Khorasan Group. A name that goes directly to the fears of arming Syrian rebels.

As previously discussed, Islamic State (ISIS) was a fringe terrorist organization that gained a resurgence due to the Syrian civil war. In part, that resurgence is due to confiscation of arms and resources from the US. Those arms were meant for moderate anti-Assad forces in Syria, but have since been used in ISIS attempt to sweep through Iraq.

As stated by Secretary of State John Kerry, to Senator Bob Corker, on the question of what Arab nation will put boots on the ground as part of President Obama’s coalition to fight ISIS,

“At this moment, no country has been ask to put boots on the ground, or no country is talking of it, and we don’t think it’s a good idea right now. There is no discussion of that at this moment.”- @ 2:49 in the video above

Yet as stated by Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to the House Intelligence Committee on September 18, 2014,

“Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility. We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”

Thus with the lack of any foreign nation willing to apply necessary ground forces to the effort to defeat ISIS, including the US, President Obama turned to the Syrian rebels to provide the ground troops needed. Still, the main fear that has withheld arming these groups, since the proposal in 2013, has been that control over who receives the arms could not be guaranteed. The thought is that arming another, potential worse, threat will only cause the situation to continue under a new black hat.

That’s where Khorasan Group comes in. Khorasan is made up of veteran fighters from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe. Reports as recent as July 2014 have shown that Khorasan Group has been key in torture and interrogations on behalf of other militant groups that have occupied Northern Pakistan- just southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan.

 As reported by Bob Orr of CBS News, Khorasan

“… is focused on trying to build bombs capable of being sneaked onto airliners, and finding the Western jihadists in Syria who could try and carry them.”

This makes them a more immediate threat to the US, as has been reported. Yet military action as proposed so far ignores their presence. The very real concern is that attempts to arm moderate anti-Assad Syrian rebels will inevitably arm Khorasan or similar groups.

Considering the lack of detailed planning, the refusal and objection of all coalition members to provide essential ground troops, and the proven record of arms and supplies targeted for moderate Syrian rebels instead reaching anti-Assad forces that are equally anti-western nations (especially the US), the overview by Jon Stewart may best describe the situation,

“…the Obama Administration would like us to do the right thing in as chaotic and confused a way as possible.”

Rating 3.50 out of 5

Time for the plan C in Iraq

By Michael Vass | September 19, 2014

** as originally posted at Binghamton Political Buzz – with added updates**

Map of Syria and Iraq and influence of forces

The appearance of ISIS in Iraq, and the horrific actions taken against innocent American and British citizens, has resulted in a rollercoaster ride of political and military actions. With a 273-156 vote in the House of Representatives on Sept 17,2017 (and approval by the Senate 78-22 the next day), the stage is set for even more twists and turns in the near term.

The terrorist group known as Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) existed before Al Qaeda and has been in resurgence for years. One of the key groups involved in the civil war in Syria, they were feared to have been part of the anti-American forces that have commandeered resources targeted for more moderate anti-Assad rebels in Syria. Those fears were realized as throughout the year ISIS invaded and took control of numerous cities in Iraq, almost taking control of Baghdad by the time the US attention focused on them.

Once aware of the threat from ISIS, President Obama authorized humanitarian aid for the Yazidis ethnic group targeted by ISIS. In addition drone bombings were started to impede the spread of this group in Iraq. Which led to the beheading of 2 American citizens and 1 British citizen. International outrage followed.

This culminated in a national address by President Obama on September 10th. In that address President Obama announced efforts to remove the threat of ISIS, via aerial attacks and a coalition of nations – especially nations in the Middle East. The success of the coalition has been mixed, as 30 nations agreed to varying degrees of outrage, some offered support and combat air forces, but none were willing to provide ground troops (further confirmed by Secretary John Kerry). President Obama has already pledged that no US combat troops would be on the ground in Iraq to fend off ISIS.

This in turn led to various parts of the Obama Administration to state America is either at war, or not at war, with ISIS – or to the degree that America is at war with Al Qaeda. The matter was further obfuscated when General Martin Dempsey stated that there is a likelihood that US troops will be needed to fight ISIS on the ground in Iraq.

“…I believe that will prove true but if it fails to be true and if there are threats to the United States then I of course would go back to the President and make a recommendation that we include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

A statement that was quickly walked back by the Obama Administration. Yet this outcome seems to be the pivotal factor in coalition troops taking a stand on the ground behind US leadership. Even Iran has noted that “[ISIS] will not be eradicated by aerial bombardments.”

With the need for ground forces to directly confront ISIS, and a lack of any national body willing to provide front-line troops, President Obama turned toward to his political adversaries in Congress for support. The plan is to supply moderate Syrian anti-Assad forces with the means to take on ISIS. A plan that was described by Rep. Charlie Dent of PA as

“We’re sort of in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation.”

So in summation, the US supplied weapons and funds to Syrian rebels (plan A), which helped strengthen ISIS not only in Syria but also Iraq. ISIS then swept through Iraq, causing the US to bomb them (Plan B), which garnered the beheading of innocent citizens. A rightly angered US called on the international community to remove the threat of ISIS, which resulted in near complete agreement without the conviction to actual take concrete steps to remove ISIS. This vacuum of leadership and strategy, in part, motivated the House of Representatives (a Republican majority) to approve once again arming Syrian rebels to take on what was originally Syrian rebels (Plan C).

As circular as the actions may seem it is not new strategy for the Middle East. Nor is the pattern of a regional conflict expanding and thus fueling the next round of fighters an uncommon historical situation to the Middle East. But this just blurs the fact that at its core, the world is apparently waiting for the US to take the lead that it is remiss in doing. The odds of an new global threat appearing within the next 10 years, with its inception from a global coalition, seem too probable to even contemplate.

One would only hope that the cycle of Wyle E. Coyote international policy will end before Plan D springs upon us.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

President Obama’s international coalition floundering

By Michael Vass | September 14, 2014

2003 BBC map

BBC map of potential Iraq coalition allies from 2003 mirrors 2014

In very familiar wording, on September 10, 2014, President Obama told the nation that a key component to fighting Islamic terrorist group ISIS will be a coalition of nations supporting US efforts. Also critical in that national address was the promise that American combat troops would not set foot in Iraq. It was stated that several hundred non-combat troops are either in or on their way to Iraq to help that nation’s infrastructure defenses.

So far the staunchest allies of the United States have stepped forward. Australia has offered 600 troops and 10 planes. None are combat troops. England, which recently had one of its citizens beheaded, has made a clear statement of supporting the US coalition. That support so far has not equated to joint airstrikes,  and has clearly emphasized a lack of combat troops. But British Prime Minister David Cameron was clear on the resolve of the British people on Sunday  Sept 14,2014,

“Step by step, we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL [ISIS] and what it stands for. We will do so in a calm and deliberate way, but with an iron determination.” -

The call for coalition has also been raised with several Middle East nations. Egypt has stated that they support the US call for coalition. Egypt for its part though has offered neither combat nor support troops and planes. Turkey has followed Egypt in inaction, but the ramifications are far deeper.

Turkey is believed to have backed ISIS in its early stages. This tacit support allowed ISIS to engage Syrian forces that are not supported by Turkey. That implied support from Turkey may have changed when 49 Turkish hostages were taken by ISIS, further complicating the matter. Whatever the reasons though, Turkey has not committed troops, has not condemned ISIS, and will not allow NATO troops to use airbases or staging areas in the nation.

The summation of this brings with it a question. If Middle East nations are only willing to provide lip service to the US-led coalition, and the most ardent allies of America are not willing to have troops put a foot on the ground, how is ISIS supposed to be thwarted? As awesome and powerful as airstrikes may be, even the most rudimentary military strategist will note that airpower cannot take or hold ground positions. With all sides unwilling to commit combat troops, and the general agreement that Iraqi forces are not up to the task, the focus comes back to the US for leadership. A leadership that is needed to prevent a predictable outcome, as stated by Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army,

“If we don’t confront and destroy these Islamic State Jihadi fighters then their influence will grow, their confidence will grow and the problem will get bigger.”

Thus, once again, the world is looking to America to place the majority of combat troops on Iraqi soil to take the brunt of the battle with ISIS. A prospect that is unlikely to change even after President Obama speaks to the UN Security Council. A prospect that will once again place President Obama in the unwelcome spot of either having directly lied to the American people or allowing a problem for the nation to grow.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Op-Ed: The unspoken price of silence

By Michael Vass | September 12, 2014

Dear friends,

This has been quite the week. We started off with the anticipation of the Statewide primaries. Then came the President’s resolution to the threat of ISIS. Of course there was the remembrance of those we lost 13 years ago. A very emotional week, with very different emotions.

Let me start by saying that we should never forget what happened 13 years ago. The feeling of shock, the fear for our loved ones across the nation, and the realization that if we turn our backs on what is happening in the world the result may not be in our best interest. Remember as well the fact that in the days after 9/11, we were a nation unified. We were all Americans, period. It is a feeling and reality that we must strive for every day, especially for those of us in politics.

I won’t address the speech by the President. You can read my thoughts at Reaction to President Obama’s kitchen sink address – expanded political commentary.

The thing I really want to share with you all is about the primaries on Sept. 9th. Regardless of the candidates, the turnout of voters was poor overall. Specifically in Broome County a mere 14.2% of registered voters cast a vote. Other parts of the 22nd district and State were similar in their results (Chenango 10.3%, Cortland 4.4%, Madison 7.4%, Oneida 14.7%). This is horrendous.

Nearly 9 out of 10 New York registered voters were silent on 9/9/14. Some would say ‘why does that matter?‘ The answer is because that is as much of a vote as is picking one candidate or another. In fact, it is even more important.

When some 89.8% of voters don’t show up, it clearly states that the majority don’t care. They don’t care how much they pay in property/school/city/State taxes. That they don’t care if there is corruption on-going. That they don’t care if political spies are being hired or if laws are being passed that restrict our rights.

When 9 out of 10 people don’t care who is in office, when they speak out to their politicians – which is what their vote does – and say it just doesn’t matter by not voting, we get the type of Government we have. In New York that means a Governor who’s corruption commission was corrupt. It means that at the local level we have Mayor’s that won’t account for funds that seem to have vanished from the budget. At every level it affects every person in this State.

Some will say, it was just a primary. But the people we pick today may well be the ones that make the laws tomorrow. No matter who wins in November, they all listened to the votes and learned how many people are really paying attention.

This is why it is all the more important that we continue to register voters and even more importantly that we motivate them to vote. Our votes are our voices, and we speak even when we do nothing. The consequences though are profound.

Michael Vasquez registering voters at Southern Tier Latinos event
I know that this is preaching to the faithful. I have no doubt that each of you reading this voted in the primaries and plans to vote in November. I personally know some of you have also gone out, as I have, to register voters. But I encourage each of you to press on, because it’s not over.

New York has ranked among the worst in voter turnout among the States. With your help I want to turn this around. If we can, it can only help to prevent the future corruption and scandals. Active voter participation is the only way to ensure we have a Government (at all levels) that is improving instead of devolving.

As I have in the past, I offer whatever help I can to any effort to register voters and motivate them to vote. I recommend the sharing of this letter, if it can help, and welcome any offers to speak at any event.

I will leave you with this final thought, that I am working on setting up as a series of Youtube videos:

The next time you learn about a law or tax you think is unfair, remember if you voted. Your voice is your vote – if you didn’t vote then the politicians didn’t hear you or your concerns. Don’t be surprised when they pass laws and taxes you don’t like.


Michael “Vass” Vasquez
President – M V Consulting, Inc
Former candidate for the NY-22 congressional district

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Reaction to President Obama’s kitchen sink address – expanded political commentary

By Michael Vass | September 12, 2014

** Expanded from the original article at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner **
President Obama during 1 of 115 rounds of golf

Like all Americans, our concerns over the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq is a growing sense of caution and need for action. Caution in providing a response strong enough to remove this threat to our nation without provoking the creation of yet another terrorist fanatical organization to take its place once gone. Action to decisively remind the world that America carries a big stick and will use it if provoked. This is what was hoped for in the prime-time address to the nation by President Obama on September 10, 2014.

In less than 15 minutes, the world audience was instead treated to the kitchen sink approach to politics. A mix of soft and hard statements, with irrelevant gibbering tossed in for an effect akin to the feeling one might have looking at a pizza that was just picked up off the ground. The pizza visibly covered in stray bits of pebbles and dirt, minute pieces of what might have been organic matter, and odd bits that just don’t make sense. The totality leaving the viewer with a feeling of loss for what previously was available and now gone.

President Obama waxed and waned on this national appearance, hop scotching from the threat of ISIS and terrorism, to the US economy, to Ebola, to the Ukraine, and back to the Middle East. It is a task that an orator of less skill could not pull off. Even so, the impression of the greatness of America, repeated over and over in the speech, took on a resemblance to that dirt covered pizza.

What may have made this even worse, beyond the all encompassing nature of the speech, where the moments that just instantly rang a bell of wrong answer. Moments like the following selected quotes:

“Tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL…”

Instantly one has to think about the current status of the US and the rest of the world. In that thought, try to picture any nation that is on friendlier or deeper terms with America than it was in 2009. England has been distanced. Israel has been, at times, thrown to the wolves. Russia is all but reinstating the Cold War. North Korea and Iran have both seen a resurgence of vitriol against America. Perhaps one could argue that Canada is still on as good terms as in the past, until the chilling effect of the blockage of the Keystone Pipeline is remembered.

“As Commander-and-Chief my highest priority is the security of the American people…”

Yet, not even a year ago, 5 of the most dangerous detainees in Guantanamo Bay were traded off for what has been pretty definitively confirmed to be a traitor. A deal hidden from a Congress that by law needed to be informed prior to action. A deal that resulted in the admission that some or all those involved will likely become threats to the American people again.

“…while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan where our combat mission will end later this year…”

Which is exactly what some believe is the reason why ISIS exists today. It is also the key reason why so much of Iraq has been captured by ISIS forces just in this summer alone. Afghanistan for its part has already begun to take on the early stages of the downfall seen in Iraq.

“…and Syria’s civil war…”

Where the US, under the guidance of President Obama’s Middle East strategy, has given weapons and aide to various groups fighting Syria’s government. Those groups include Al Qaeda and ISIS. Both of which have used the supplies and arms to fuel their efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“And in acts of barbarism they took the lives of two American journalists. Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Barbaric indeed. Heinous acts that were unprovoked and disgusting. But it was President Obama himself, after denouncing the first of these atrocities, who went off and immediately hit the golf course after speaking to the press. An act many feel is no less disgusting.

“…if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region…”

Is President Obama channeling President Bush? Is that not part of the reason for the invasion of Iraq? The threat of WMD’s. A stance that Senator Obama attacked heartily on the campaign trail, and boldly denounced the surge strategy enacted to contain and remove the threat of Al Qaeda at the time. So is it being said that this was the right strategy all along? That America must repeat this process that was dismantled by President Obama in the first place?

“…and some American have joined them [ISIS]…”

Is this the justification for the Justice Department memo authorizing the killing of Americans without trial via drone bomb attacks? Is there a known threat to the nation from American that have joined ISIS? Is anything being done to protect citizens domestically? What proof is there that Americans have joined ISIS?

“…since then we have conducted over 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq…”

No war has ever been won solely by bombing the enemy. Ever. Troops have always been required. Otherwise the air strikes that have been on-going since 2009 in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq would have already resolved the problems years ago. Airstrikes are not an answer by themselves, as impressive as 150 may sound.

“This is a core principle of my presidency. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Except if you go to Iran. Or North Korea. Or Pakistan. Egypt and Libya are touch and go. Russia and China might indirectly help without serious comment from us too. But otherwise no safe haven. Unless you are in Africa where America generally doesn’t pay attention. This is a core principle of the Obama international policy.

“Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians…”

Except if they are in the Sudan. Darfur, which was classified as a genocide by the UN when President Obama was still a Senator. Other parts of the world that have similar humanitarian needs may well be overlooked as well, as they are currently.

“This is American leadership at its best.”

No it is not. World War II was American leadership at its best. The creation of the internet and modern technology is American leadership examples. The aid of individual Americans to Haiti and Indonesia after natural disasters is American leadership. The international policy of the Obama Administration does not compare, if we are honest.

“I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL…”

No, you don’t. Many in Congress have stated they believe an extended conflict requires authorization directly from Congress. Even stalwart Democrat politicians like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are wavering on the authority the Executive Branch has in this situation.

U.S. Predator drone

“This strategy of taking out terrorist who threaten while supporting partners on the front lines is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

Yet the terrorist threats in Yemen and Somalia are as vigorous and active as they have been for years. In neither example have Al Qaeda or any splinter terrorist group been defeated or ousted. The success that is touted is not apparent in the examples used.

“Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression…”

What in the world does this have to do with ISIS and terrorism? Is President Obama saying that the sub-prime housing bubble was a terrorist plot? Even worse is the fact that the economy has yet to recover. More people are out of work and not counted as unemployed than almost at the peak of the recession. Growth of GDP remains underwhelming. The Obama Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, and the takeover of the auto industry all failed to create long-term jobs. The situation is so bad that no Democrat has used the word stimulus in 4 years, and even the President has made a joke out of the phrase “shovel-ready jobs”.

It at this point that the speech devolves into a kitchen sink with everything thrown in for good measure. Any topic in the headlines is used. All of it phrased as if there is a silver-lining hiding just behind a cloud that is about to pass. Every word is perfect for winning an election, that President Obama will never again be running in.

Every word from this point on has nothing to do with ISIS or the threat terrorism poses to America. With each new unrelated topic, the speech weakens the resolve it hastily insisted existed and demeans the entire process to little more than a political attempt to curry favor in the November elections. It is a display of Obama the campaigner-n-chief, and implies a lack of fortitude to complete the tasks the majority of the speech was predicated on.

Every word from this point on has nothing to do with ISIS or the threat terrorism poses to America. With each new unrelated topic, the speech weakens the resolve it hastily insisted existed and demeans the entire process to little more than a political attempt to curry favor in the November elections. It is a display of Obama the campaigner-n-chief, and implies a lack of fortitude to complete the tasks the majority of the speech was predicated on.

To summarize the reaction to this national address you could say it was just more of the same. Some saber rattling, some smoke and mirror distractions, a vague plan that sounds incredibly ineffective if thought about for a few moments. Hardly a speech to rebound from the lack of a plan announced just a week ago. Definitely not a speech to make terrorists around the world any more concerned than they were even a day ago.

President Obama has set the stage. America has a big stick… and some job growth, and nice schools, and Apple just came out with smart watches, and coal power is still bad, and so is Russia, and so is that Ebola thing. But America has a big stick, and we may or may not actually use it. So ISIS better be scared.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

State primary results reveal more than just winners and losers

By Michael Vass | September 12, 2014

**as originally written at** and updated

NYS Sen. Tom Libous

The September 10, 2014 headlines in much of Broome County, New York will be focused squarely on the primary election results. The story that will be conveyed is that the NY 52nd State District Senator Tom Libous defeated his Republican challenger Denver Jones. But that obfuscates the real story of importance.

The result from the 2014 Primary was 7,003 votes (or 63.9%) for incumbent Senator Libous. The challenger Denver Jones tallied 3,953 votes (or 36.1%) based on the early data. A net total of 10,956 Republicans came out to have their voices, via ballots, counted throughout the county.

Of course no story on the State Senate race will be complete without certain facts about Senator Libous. This includes that Senator Libous has previously run unopposed since 2004 (according to immediately available records from the Broome County Board of Elections). That he has been re-elected to the State Senate continuously since 1988. But the main item of reportage will be the July 1, 2014 indictment for lying to a FBI agent. Senator Libous has plead not guilty to this charge.

But what may be far more significant is that there were some 6,780 additional votes cast – Republican, Democrats, Conservatives and Independents combined – for a grand total of at least 17,736 vote cast on September 9, 2014 in Broome County alone. Ignoring that some races in the County allowed for multiple votes, the turnout is abysmal. According to the 2010 Census, there are at least 108,546 registered voters in Broome County alone. This means only 16.3% voter activity.

UPDATE – based on total registered voter data from the NY State Board of Elections (2012), the percentage of voter turnout in the NY-22 (total of 10.2%) is as follows:

    Broome County – 14.2%
    Chenango County – 10.3%
    Cortland County – 4.4%
    Madison County – 7.4%
    Oneida County – 14.7%

Herkimer, Oswego, and Tioga counties are split counties and therefore are not counted in this example of the NY-22 voter turnout.

That is the real story. Voters just didn’t show up. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats, Conservative or Independent, in the 52nd State Senate District or not, voters overwhelmingly stayed at home. The results are so poor that, if similar trends occurred across the State, it may result in New York State accomplishing the goal of being ranked 50th in voter turnout (in the 2010 mid-terms NY ranked 48th).

It is results like this that lead to polling that shows 48% of American either don’t know what Party their representative is in, or are wrong in what party they believe their representative is in. It’s these results that caused national predictions like this one from Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement,

“Despite negative views of incumbent officeholders, the impact on incumbents’ actual reelection hopes is likely modest, with the vast majority of officeholders expected to win reelection in November.”

New York incumbents are likely to find great safety in the turnout numbers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is facing Federal investigation over his actions with the Moreland Commission, is sure to hope that the Washington Post is accurate. But how is this a benefit to the public at large? Especially if out of the 1 in 6 that vote, only half know who they are voting for?

None of this will be addressed in major media coverage though. The only news to really be covered will be the results, and the headlines will convey that message. Because the truth about the consequences of voter apathy will never sell as well as a title of landslide win.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Sen. Gillibrand is the hawkish dove of New York Democrats

By Michael Vass | September 12, 2014

**as originally written at**

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

There is no secret that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is a political horse of many colors. As a Congresswoman she was a staunch gun control opponent and fought immigration reform. Not odd things for a Republican, but a stark contrast to the Democrats she counts herself among. Especially in the ultra-blue state of New York. But then she became the junior Senator behind Sen. Charles Schumer and quickly fell in the Democrat line, becoming what many see as a yes-woman for the Party.

This is of course old news. It was well covered in 2008 when Sen. Gillibrand was appointed to the seat vacated by the far-Left former occupant, Hillary Clinton. It was covered again in 2009 on the issue of gun control. But there is no end of the flip-flops on political positions that Sen. Gillibrand maintains.

The latest twist finds Senator Gillibrand changing course on Middle East policy. To be specific, as reported by the AP on September 9, 2014, the junior Senator is on the bandwagon to fight ISIS as well as concede that President Obama may need authorization for a prolonged effort to combat this latest terrorist global threat. A position that falls mostly in line with the goals of President Obama, as he has detailed them at the moment.

But it was just March 2011 when Senator Gillibrand was calling for a definitive retreat from Afghanistan. In 2007 Rep. Gillibrand was a clear opponent to the surge in Iraq, stating

“That the answers in sustaining peace in Iraq lie in the political, diplomatic and economic solutions. Not in the military ones.”

Thus it might seem strange for the casual consumer of politics. Is Senator Gillibrand a supporter of non-military action in the Middle East? Does she seek to rid the world of ISIS by diplomacy and economics as was the case with Al Queada in Iraq? Or is she in favor of direct military action, similar to the very surge she is on record opposing?

It is a complex web that is a direct reflection of the Obama Administration’s international policy – especially when it comes to the Middle East. As we noted in our article on the Administration’s policy,

“It is a policy of retreat on one front and aggression on another. A policy of non-interference in the sovereign actions of nations, while injecting action under the call for humanitarian aid in other (and sometimes the same) sovereign nations.”

Senator Gillibrand has earned her stripes in the New York political machine. She has flipped and twisted her positions to match and generally support whole-heartedly whatever the President and the Democrat Party stance of the day may be. Thus in 2007 she was a dove, and in 2014 she is a hawk – but still a dove when it comes to other parts of the Middle East. It is anyone’s guess what she might be in 2016.

Yet, it would seem that the best (or perhaps only) way for New York constituents to get a consistent answer from their junior Senator is for the President to pick a definitive role. Of course that is an option that the world has been waiting for, and apparently will keep waiting a bit longer to get.

Rating 3.00 out of 5