Since the elections on November 4, 2014, a new image has surfaced on Democrats and Liberals. An image formed from the direct words spoken and text brazenly put forth to the public. An image that should make even the most ardent supporter pause and question what it is they truly support.
Starting on November 3rd, First Lady Michelle Obama what seems to be a floodgate of views of the Democrat base from some of those at its highest levels. In an interview with TV One radio personality Roland Martin, Ms. Obama was speaking about the then-upcoming election. Reaching out to the Black Democrat base, trying to encourage them to show up on election day, she made an incredible statement,
“And that’s my message to voters. This isn’t about Barak. It’s not about the person on the ballot. It’s about you.
For most of the people we are talking to, a Democratic ticket is the clear ticket that we should be voting on, regardless who said what or did this. That shouldn’t even come into the equation.” – Michelle Obama
It may seem harmless at first glance. But what she shared is anything but harmless. Because voting IS about who is on the ballot. What they stand for and what they intend to do. How, whomever is on the ballot, will represent the people on issues that will directly affect the people.
Worse yet, First Lady Obama asked voters to vote Democrat blindly. That the words and actions of candidates are meaningless if they are a Democrat, and therefore should be voted for without question or consideration. Such a comment infers that the very base of Democrats she is reaching out to, are either too stupid to understand the choices before them or unqualified to evaluate the candidates on their own.
If this is what the wife of the leader of the Democrat Party thinks of its base of voters, what might others in the Democrat Party think? Perhaps that Black votes can be bought with fried chicken. Because First Lady Obama goes on to suggest exactly that, in earnest, as she continues to talk with Roland Martin,
[After a jest by Roland] “Absolutely. I give everyone full permission to eat some fried chicken. After they vote!… [after laughter from both, the First Lady states seriously] “But you make a good point. Because I do talk about good health. But I think that a good victory for Democrats, on Tuesday, should be rewarded with some fried chicken and food like that.”
It brings back memories of the massive controversy of Fuzzy Zoeller’s “joke” to Tiger Woods in 1997. A joke that enflamed the masses. But Zoeller was a golf professional. First Lady Obama makes the same “joke” (as some have parsed it) about an entire base of voters, after insulting the intelligence of those same voters, and she is defended. Who knew this was meant as the Democrat message of inclusiveness.
But once that passed, largely untouched by the mainstream media, and the elections tallies were done, November 10th brought a double barreled blast of Liberal and Democrat views of the public and its base of voters.
First on that day was the reveal of how Obamacare was passed. In unedited video on display on Youtube, were the words of Jonathan Gruber. An unknown to the general public, Mr. Gruber is noted as the technical consultant to the Obama Administration and has been described as an “architect” or “writer” of Obamacare. He has also worked in the past with the Clinton and Edwards campaigns. He is not a low level Democrat.
Mr. Gruber relates that he believes the American people are stupid and that a lack of transparency, an issue President Obama campaigned against in 2008, is essential to politics. He relates that lies told to the public at large, and manipulation, were essential for Obamacare. That the Democrat goal was more important than ethics or honesty, even among the Democrat base.
To his credit, Mr. Gruber has back off of his documented statements from October 2013. As he has stated on WGBH, the real issue is a “…master strategy of the Republican Party which is confuse people about the law…” He then goes on to state that the lesson to be learned from revealing his own words and thoughts was,
“I have certainly learned my lesson… But now I know, I can not only [not] tweet, I can’t speak.”
So the point that Mr. Gruber is making is that it is fine for politicians, and the people helping to make laws, to lie to the public and obfuscate the truth. It’s fine for the public to be manipulated. As long as Republicans take the blame and the truth is not revealed.
Speaking of Twitter, on November 10th The Daily Show added its part in revealing the face of the Democrat Party. A tweet, from an unknown source at the program, made a jest of the loss of jobs for coal miners as a consequence of President Obama’s quest against global warming and the coal industry.
“TDSBreakingNews Coal jobs vanish, miners seek new careers. Maybe the NFL? They’re looking for people willing to seriously harm themselves.”
At no point is this funny or cute. Yet, someone at the program headed by one of the more influential Democrats in media, Jon Stewart, seemed to believe that the suffering of fellow Americans was comical. Because, apparently, they feel that the greater evil is coal, or conversely the greater good is preventing global warming.
Of course it could simply be that whomever wrote the tweet feels that Americans are too stupid to understand the issue of global warming, the impact of coal and the creation of the electricity needed to power Twitter. Perhaps they felt the offer of the NFL as a treat dispelled any negatives their message might convey. They might have even felt that a lack of transparency on the impact of eliminating coal companies obscured the mean-spirited nature of the tweet.
But in total these 3 events, all in the space of a week, show a face of the Democrat Party that never quite makes it to the election posters and major media nightly news. At some of the highest levels of the Democrat Party, the view of Americans (even in their own Party) is that we are pathetic, bought cheaply, easily distracted, uninformed, and ultimately incapable of independent thought.
The truly terrifying thought though is that given the near unprecedented lack of voter turnout, and the almost complete lack of news media attention, these revelations will likely have no impact to Democrats. Thus, at least in part, the new face of the Democrat Party might be telling the truth.
To every Marine, new or old, in peace and in combat, I hope that you may have a moment of calm on this day to read this message and know that you are appreciated, loved, and never forgotten.
Our sweat, blood, and sacrifice have enriched the lives of Americans we will never know, some not even born yet. Such is the duty of a Marine. But the honor with which we live, and the dedication to our nation, our Corps, and family is what defines every Marine.
We have always been few in number, yet great in brotherhood. We have earned, and continue to earn, the respect of our allies and enemies. It is for all these reasons I am humbled to say that I am the son of a Marine and a Marine myself.
On this, our 239th birthday, I send out my birthday wish – among the tens of millions of wishes from across America and those of the hundreds of millions of lives touched by Marines over the decades across the world – for every Marine to receive the strength, support, and camaraderie to achieve whatever goal is before them on this, and every, day.
Semper Fidelis devil dogs!
Michael “Vass” Vasquez
A birthday message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General J. F. Dunford, Jr.
**Article originally written at http://www.examiner.com/article/unemployment-rate-improves-but-economic-outlook-far-less-rosy-reality**
With the release of the October unemployment numbers, many are rejoicing. Once again those that simply embrace the headline of a reduced unemployment figure are missing the bigger picture. Only in looking in detail can a real perspective of the economic stability of the nation be understood.
The headline that is being sung by various politicians is that unemployment has now hit 5.8%. A target that was initially promised to be arrived at years ago via the Obama Stimulus plan. The Obama Stimulus failed, as did Cash for Clunkers, the Government takeover and then IPO of GM, and several other short-sighted economic programs. That is not to say there was no improvement. Rather, it is to say that the grand promises of each program/initiative failed to achieve the primary goals and timeframes.
The Obama Stimulus failed to create jobs or immediately impact the unemployment rate. Cash for Clunkers cost more than it was promised to give to the economy. The Government takeover of GM crushed private bondholders in favor of labor unions, and resulted in an IPO that lost the investment of taxpayer funds as opposed to the promise of a net gain. In each case these programs received huge media attention at launch, and near silence once proven to have failed. In each case, the economy suffered and the impact to the average American has been prolonged.
On November 7, 2008 (all figures are from USDebtClock.org), there were 143.8 million Americans in the labor force – working jobs of some sort and counted in the employment figures. 39.4 million Americans lived in poverty. 32.8 million received food stamps. The national debt (as of this date in 2008) was $10.86 trillion. 80.4 million American did not work and were not counted as part of the unemployment figures. Actual (u-6) number of people unemployed, as counted by the unemployment figures (but not part of the unemployment rate published in headlines), was 13.6 million Americans.
On November 7, 2012, the number of American in the labor force had reduced to 142.9 million. The number in poverty had increased to 46.5 million, receiving food stamps increased to 47.6 million. The national debt increased to $16.2 trillion. A total of 88.5 million American were without work and not counted in determining the unemployment rate. The actual number of people unemployed was 22.5 million Americans.
Today, the number of in the labor force is 146.8 million Americans. The number of Americans in poverty is now 44.3 million, with the number receiving food stamps at 46.2 million. The national debt is at $17.9 trillion and climbing. Some 92.8 million American are not in the labor force, and not counted towards the unemployment rate. The total (u-6) number of people unemployed is 18.2 million, which is not part of the headline unemployment figure.
What we can derive from this is not the same as the 5.8% unemployment headline most politicians want to tout. Seen in a more graphical way, this is the Civilian Labor Force from 2000 to October 2014 (chart from theU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
This is the number of Americans that are actively available to work (unemployed) or are working, as defined by the BLS. The decline has be a steady decrease since early in 2008. While the rate of decrease has slowed in 2014, it still has yet to stop.
Add to this the Employment-Population Ratio. This is the number of people actively working, contributing to taxes, and being counted as part of the unemployment rate.
Given this chart we can see that the nation has only just begun to recover jobs. The nation essentially hovered at 58.6% through 2013, with growth finally starting to reverse the stagnation in 2014. As of October the nation is as 59.2% – a level last seen in July of 2009.
So what does this all mean? That the nation is far from healthy and far from a rebound. While this is the first year since 2008 that there has been any indication of improvement, it is hardly the signal of growth that the headlines imply. Prosperity continues to elude the 13.2 million added to the food stamp roles, and the 4.9 million in poverty since 2008. All of this as the cost of $7.04 trillion in debt since 2008.
The conclusion is simple. While there number of unemployed has been reduced by 4.3 million since 2012, there are 4.6 million more Americans unemployed since 2008. Almost all of that change has occurred in 2014, with the end of all the programs enacted and promised to fix the economy before the end of President Obama’s first term.
Thus the attempt at micromanagement via Government involvement in the private sector has been solidly shown to be a failure. The concept of long-term job creation via Government intervention, as Hillary Clinton recently stated
“Don’t let anybody tell you that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”
is a fallacy proven by the real world impact of trying to prove otherwise. Only as Government has stopped acting, and it’s attempts to fix problems that are beyond the scope of government faded, has any positive traction taken place.
Therefore, we can finally see that there is some kernel of truth in the latest unemployment figures. The nation is starting to get on its economic feet. But the bows being taken by many politicians are misguided, as it is the lack of their short-term headline grabbing promises and actions that has been the real benefit to the nation.
Election day is over and the results have come in. Governor Andrew Cuomo has retained his seat of power. But this victory was anything but a landslide.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, there were a potential 10,827,434 voters in the State. Of that total slightly less than one third actually cast a vote in the Governor’s race. Some 68%, or 7.38 million voters just didn’t show up. That alone is a signal of the apathy facing the future of New York.
Of the 3.45 million that did vote, Governor Cuomo won New York City and 11 of the 62 districts across the State. The margin of victory was a mere 476,000 votes. A look at a map of the votes, as provided by Politico, shows exactly why New York State is one of the bluest States in the nation. But what does this mean for the State going forward?
The NY Safe Act is now relatively secure in the hands of its main supporter. While this legislation remains unpopular, with the equivalent transparency of pea soup, and rumored to be essentially unenforced it will continue the path of court review it has been on since inception. For those that believe it is an infringement on 2nd Amendment rights, it will remain a sore spot. For those that seek to be protected neither this law, nor the Executive Order of President Obama, stopped the 10 mass shootings so far this year in New York (of which all but 2 were in NYC). But for a certain 2016 presidential hopeful, the continuation will bode well among far-left supporters.
Prior to, and since the term of Gov. Cuomo, New York has been consistently rated among the least business friendly States. Initiatives such as Start-Up New York have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, and untold amounts in future tax revenues for a decade, to entice new small businesses to come to New York – while established mature businesses exit the State. This was seen this summer as 5 new businesses were announced as coming to the Southern Tier, creating a total of 80 jobs. Shortly afterward, and far less publicized, PepsiCo exited the Southern Tier, taking 76 jobs from the area. Gov. Cuomo touted the start-ups as “game-changing” for New York, and had no comment on PepsiCo.
Much like Chicago, New York politics has been infamous for the corruption to be found here. Gov. Spitzer resigned in disgrace over a prostitution ring. Gov. Patterson was accused of witness tampering, an extramarital affair, and drug use – leading to his exit from a re-election bid (plus the behest of President Obama to clear the way for Andrew Cuomo). Under Gov. Cuomo, New York has been given little better. While he created the Moreland Commission to fight corruption, it was disbanded by Gov. Cuomo allegedly to protect his corruption. The investigation by the FBI is continuing, and the trend of NY Governors may yet continue.
In fact there are 2 things that New York can look forward to, under a continued guidance by Gov. Cuomo. The first is a continued attempt to displace California as the “progressive capital” of the US. California for its part exceeds New York State in debt, illegal alien population, and occasionally business unfriendliness. The race for title of progressive capital is one that has never appeared on any ballot, and never been asked of residents in any way.
The other item that New Yorker can look forward to is the likely run for president that Gov. Cuomo is rumored to be considering. According to the NY Post, Gov. Cuomo is in
“… the early stages of a well- thought-out, under-the-radar strategy for him to run for president in 2020…”
A sentiment that was apparent in 2013 as well, according to Real Clear Politics,
“While most observers expect him to yield to Clinton, should she run, few doubt that Cuomo would pounce on the opportunity if she opts out. And more than a few wonder if there is room for both New Yorkers in the 2016 field.”
There is no lack of other sources citing rumor and taking note of actions in preparation for a presidential bid. The only real question seems to be if Gov. Cuomo will run in 2016 or 2020. Either way, the consensus is that New York is not the goal but a stepping stone. If such thoughts are correct, then any non-political gains for New York as a result of the policies of Gov. Cuomo are just incidental by-products.
Thus, due to 7.38 million non-votes, New York is poised to endure further restrictions of rights, stagnated economic growth, and continued corruption until either Gov. Cuomo’s term ends or the opportunity to run for president appears.
With the 2014 mid-term elections over, the political landscape has changed and the direction of the nation is poised to take a new path. This new political world may be hardest for President Obama to adjust to, as he begins the lame duck portion of his presidency.
With 52 seats in the Senate now held by Republicans, in conjunction with a firm hold of the House of Representatives, the Obama Administration is face with a challenge it seems ill equipped to deal with. Gone are the heady days of a Democrat supermajority. Gone is the stonewall of Democrat support from a Senate to counter-balance the House. Gone is the safety net that has kept President Obama from the need to compromise.
Only as we approach the final 2 years of an Obama presidency will we see if the campaign trail promise of 2008 is true. If President Obama can be the bi-partisan President. If he can truly be open to the ideas from the other side of the political aisle. The first test will come shortly. The promised and delayed unilateral reform of immigration.
In hindsight the impetus to go it alone on immigration reform now makes sense. The President keenly read the political tea leaves and understood that whatever his vision for immigration might have been, it would not survive 2 years of Republican correction. Considering that the Obama Administration proposed that the unilateral action would incite an impeachment, that vision is sure to fail a unified Republican Congress.
But the power of a lame-duck Senate may be just enough to slip one more piece of legislation through and onto a nation that long ago stopped hoping for a change that was clearly not coming. Much like the Affordable Care Act, passing as the waning power of the Democrat supermajority was all but done, the enactment of a Democrat DREAM Act might just be put in place before the new Senate term starts. The objective being that once the slow moving gears of Government have begun to move it is near impossible to stop or dismantle what has been done.
If this is the case, as appears more likely with the results of the mid-term elections decisively finalized, then departing Democrat Senators may give President Obama just enough cover to force an Executive Branch overhaul on immigration. Such a move would give just enough time for protocols to be changed, and funds allocated, while protecting the President from any calls of impeachment that the Administration has predicted will follow.
If this is the plan of the Obama Administration, then it would be the death knell to any legislation from Democrats for 2 years. It would be a clear and undisputed (as much as anything in the political realm can be called undisputed) declaration that the image of President Obama as a bridge between political divisions was exactly that. An illusion fabricated on the campaign trail to garner votes, and tossed aside when the assurance of a Democrat powerbase was elected. It would be the final, and brutal, nail in the coffin to the concept that any politician seeking the presidency on a platform of reform is anything but an opportunist plying on the insecurities of the nation.
The proverbial ball is in the President’s court. He can either take a final slam dunk on immigration reform, and lose the rest of the game as he sits on the sidelines, or he can play with a team he does not know and will never be considered the hero in. That is the choice facing the President, and the repercussions will reach out to every American.
The following video is the full set of questions and answers with candidate for Governor Rob Astorino and running mate Sheriff Chris Moss after an event in Binghamton, NY on October 31, 2014.
The video is unedited, and covers:
In addition, we exclusively were able to speak with Broome County Sheriff David Harder after the event. That exclusive discussion is at the end of the above video.
On Oct 31, 2014, gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and his running mate Sheriff Chris Moss came to Binghamton to speak with supporters and the public at large as the final days before the election tick away. It was a short trip as the candidates were on a multi-district tour of Upstate New York, but the energy in the conference hall at the Holiday Inn in downtown Binghamton, NY made up for any brevity.
The mid-day rally gathered an estimated 110 – 160 supporters. This includes local elected officials such as State Senator Tom Libous, Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, and Sheriff David Harder (each an incumbent seeking re-election). In addition Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, Binghamton Mayor Rich David, Johnson City Mayor Greg Deemie, County Clerk Rick Blythe, Binghamton Councilman Chris Papastrat, Broome County Republican Party Chairman Bijoy Datta, and candidate Mike Baker for Family Court Judge were also in attendance. Both Executive Preston and Sheriff Harder took the opportunity to endorse Astorino and Moss, respectively.
Sheriff Moss, a well known opponent of Gov. Cuomo’s NY Safe Act signature legislation, spoke directly to the power of the voters to resolve the challenges facing New York. His focus was on reminding voters to get on November 4, 2014 as the issues facing the States are critical. He said in part,
“If we want to de-regulate, if we want to lower taxes, if we want to repeal the Safe Act, repeal Common Core, this is our chance Tuesday, November 4th.”
Rob Astorino, the County Executive of Westchester County, detailed the effort he and his running mate have expended over the past 7 months to reach the public. The two drove a combined 80,000 miles crisscrossing all 62 districts of the State, Astorino stated to the enthusiastic crowd. That effort was coupled with his vision to redefine the State as a business friendly opportunity – in part with the introduction of rules and regulations that would allow hydrofracking with in the State in his first 90 days if elected, as well as lowering taxes and instituting term limits. This counters the inaction of Gov. Cuomo to resolve the “fracking” issue though Cuomo had promised decisive action when first elected.
Rob Astorino went on to state,
“His [Gov. Cuomo] New York is very different than the real New York…But the economy in New York is not good. You know what it grew last year? … 0.7%, and Andrew Cuomo is taking victory laps for that?”
Thus far in the election cycle Gov. Cuomo, has not visited Binghamton. His last visit was in 2013, even though Cuomo’s Start-Up New York program drew 5 new businesses to Binghamton University – for a total of 80 jobs at the cost of 10 years of tax revenue. Gov. Cuomo called the news a “game-changing move” for New York at that time. The current employment rate for Binghamton is 6.3% and according to George Winner in the New York Post,
“A recent US Conference of Mayors report says outlook for much of the state is anemic all the way to 2020. This is especially so upstate, in areas like Binghamton and Utica.”
Ultimately, voters will decide the fate of all the issues facing New York State. November 4, 2014 is Tuesday and poll are open from 6 AM until 9 PM.
** Originally posted at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **
Once again the persistent question of profitability of casino’s in New York State has been raised. This time by Donald Trump, on October 20, 2014, as reported by the Daily News. Mr. Trump believes that NY casinos will fail in the long-term , even as a rash of Atlantic City casinos are closing and plans to open casinos close to the New York border are being debated. Who is correct, Gov. Cuomo or Donald Trump?
To understand the chance of success it may be best to first understand the situation. In this year alone 3 Atlantic City casinos have closed (Revel, Showboat, and Trump Plaza) with another in danger of closing shortly (Trump Taj Mahal). The reasons vary to a degree, but all include 2 things: the national economy and competition in neighboring States.
Unlike almost any other industry, casinos are essentially a zero sum industry. In essence casinos take more out of communities than they put in – if they are successful. Casinos do not create a good that can be sold, and the number of jobs created is fixed once a casino is up and running. The goal of all casinos is the Las Vegas model. That is that the glamour and entertainment is attractive enough to pull tourists from other locations, thus increasing the pool of money that can be taken without destroying the local economy the casino is based in.
For more than 2 decades Atlantic City did exactly what Las Vegas has done. They pulled visitors on the East Coast via boxing matches and ease in travel (compared to Las Vegas). There is the benefit of a decent climate (for the northeast) and a beach in addition to entertainment venues. This was an ideal situation, until competition arrived.
First there was Foxwoods in Connecticut. Then came the changes in laws in neighboring States, including the creation of racinos (race tracks with limited additional gambling options) – like Tioga Downs in New York (opened in 2006). While the short-term shows increased revenues for virtually all locations (Tioga Downs had revenues double to $60 million from 2006 until fiscal 2013) the key is saturation. This lead to the currently ill-fate of Atlantic City, and the first signs of problems in other States.
Fiscal 2014, Tioga Downs had its first revenue decrease. Two long-term well established casinos in Atlantic City closed with a third expected to follow shortly. Even the most successful New York racino at Aqueduct in New York City – a very old and well-established race track with expanded gambling options since 2011, plus the draw of the City, and access to a massive pool of tourists – has experienced problems. Growth at Aqueduct has slowed to 6.5% as of August 2014 (down from 14% growth), with the majority of revenues coming from the local community and not tourists.
“Resorts World has not been as successful tapping into the robust tourism industry in the Big Apple as it would have liked. The vast majority of its customers are locals from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.”
This reality of current environment does not take into account:
- Market saturation – additional casinos outside of Atlantic City, along the New York border such as the Meadowlands and Jersey City, are poised to open casinos. This does not count the 4 casinos planned in New York, nor expansions in other nearby States.
- A lackluster economy – For all the talk of recovery and improved economics, the total number of unemployed has remained relatively steady. Most of the recent reduction in the unemployment rate have come from not counting unemployed persons for varying reasons, not in an increase in employment (See our article - 6.1% Unemployment Rate: celebrate the headline, fear the facts)
- Impact to locals communities – even with the draw of New York City, the saturation of casinos is causing a greater reliance on local community revenues as a source for the casinos. While a diverse city like NYC has millions of people and generally a higher income per person, Upstate NY has neither the population nor the economic diversity on its side.
Given all the factors, and the reality of the economic environment facing casinos in New York and the Northeast, could Donald Trump be correct? Or is this the key to creating a vibrant business climate the Gov. Cuomo has boasted of in numerous commercials? Can gambling casinos save New York?
No, New York will never be saved by casinos. The math at the current time, and foreseeable future, indicate that the revenues. Given the relatively harsh winters (that numerous New Yorkers escape south to avoid every year), the lack of diversity in Upstate New York, the limited pool of discretionary dollars available, and high competition, casinos cannot be the savior to New York’s State deficit. For these same reasons local communities, that may gain a short-term bump due to curiosity and ease of travel, will not have meaningful long-term improvements.
“The problem is the whole country is becoming one big gambling casino, and many of them will die.” – Donald Trump, 10/20/14
In fact, it is a very real probability that at least some of the local communities in Upstate New York, will be harmed by the casinos. The limited pool of discretionary funds available in these areas may funnel into the casinos. Funds that will never reach back to the communities they came from, because that is the purpose of a gambling casino – if they are run to create a profit.
Without a massive, and highly unlikely, boost to the national economy Donald Trump is likely correct. Without a massive change in business friendliness (a reduction in the number of regulations and a decrease in personal and corporate taxes) for New York State, which is again highly unlikely, Donald Trump is likely correct. Considering all factors, the probability of success for New York casinos beyond 3 years of operation decrease for every continued year of operation, while adding to the burden of local communities.
“New Yorkers cannot gamble their way to prosperity; gambling is not a path to economic growth.” - Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, 11/1/13
Casinos take in money, that is their purpose. For New York State to expect them to generate money could be called absurd. Donald Trump understands this well, and was successful for decades in the casino industry. Betting money says he is right again on New York.
** Article originally posted on 10/10/14 at http://www.examiner.com/article/astorino-campaign-representative-speaks-with-vestal-ny-residents **
With the onset of October statewide election campaigns are gearing up for the November election. As of October 10, 2014 voter registration forms must be in the mail to be accepted by the Board of Elections and allow a vote next month. October is also the month where campaigns reach out to the undecided voters, as well as address the voter apathy that is rampant in New York State. In Vestal, New York on October 7, 2014, the campaign of Rob Astorino for Governor stopped by the Vestal Public Library to speak with concerned voters and answer their questions.
Bijoy Datta, a lifelong local resident and chairman of the Broome County Republican Party, spoke on behalf of the Astorino/Moss campaign that he has work with for most of the year. Rob Astorino is running against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The running mate for Mr. Astorino is Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, an outspoken opponent of Gov. Cuomo’s NY Safe Act. Together they are trying to unseat an incumbent many believe is using the position of Governor as leverage for a run for President in 2016.
Mr. Datta answered local residents questions on issues ranging from the impact of PAC’s and corporate donors supporting the incumbent, to media ads and the connection to elections, to issues far closer to residents and their pockets. One of the main items that Mr. Datta stressed was that ever vote matters. In a race with 19 million possible voters, it was explained that the final outcome is likely to be decided by some 2.5 million votes statewide. The cause of the massive reduction in votes? Voter apathy and lack of registering to vote. Yet, Mr. Datta pointed out that this means that the large pool of voters upstate could swing the vote.
It should be noted that there are an estimated 5 million gun owners in New York State. Given this figure and the fact that 52 out of 62 Counties in New York created legislation in opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s signature legislation, the NY Safe Act, the target of 2.5 million votes may well be surpassed. According to Assemblyman Bill Nojay’s comments early this year, the incumbent may not have the support of sheriffs or State Troopers.
“If you don’t have the troopers and you don’t have the sheriffs, who have you got? You’ve got Andrew Cuomo pounding on the table in Albany.”
But the discussion with Mr. Datta was not limited to just the repeal of the NY Safe Act. We had the opportunity to ask where Mr. Astorino stands on the controversial NY START-UP, a program that supports new companies entering NY State with a decade free of taxes, while offering no such benefit to existing companies. Further we asked what was the alternative that Mr. Astorino has to this and similar programs? The answer (which can be seen in full in the video below) was that Mr. Astorino opposes Government picking and choosing which private business to support or not. Mr. Astorino seeks to lower corporate and personal taxes as a means to spur business growth and raise New York from 50th place among states for business friendliness. Lastly, the issue of State regulations was addressed,
“The other point Rob [Astorino] likes to make frequently is that there are 750,000 regulations in this state between local government, State government and so on. We put a freeze on that from day one, so no new regulations go into effect … and we toss out ones that don’t need to be there.”
Ultimately the race for New York will be decided in November. At that time the public will learn if media ads, or contact with local residents, has won the day.
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?