Obama on Obamacare: “We did raise taxes on some things.”
“Some things” means uninsured families, medical devices, workplace flex accounts, small businesses, and are just a few examples on the list.
During his Tuesday remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama admitted that his health care law raises taxes: “So what we did — it’s paid for by a combination of things. We did raise taxes on some things.”
“Some things” is an understatement. Below is just a partial list of Obamacare’s new or higher taxes on Americans:
Starting in tax year 2013:
Obamacare Medical Device Tax: Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will make everything from pacemakers to artificial hips more expensive.
Obamacare High Medical Bills Tax: Before Obamacare, Americans facing high medical expenses were allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceeded 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). Obamacare now imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Therefore, Obamacare not only makes it more difficult to claim this deduction, it widens the net of taxable income.
According to the IRS, 10 million families took advantage of this tax deduction in 2009, the latest year of available data. Almost all are middle class. The average taxpayer claiming this deduction earned just over $53,000 annually. ATR estimates that the average income tax increase for the average family claiming this tax benefit will be $200 – $400 per year. To learn more about this tax, click here.
Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Tax: The 30 – 35 million Americans who use a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs face a new Obamacare cap of $2,500. This will squeeze $13 billion of tax money from Americans over the next ten years. (Before Obamacare, the accounts were unlimited under federal law, though employers were allowed to set a cap.) Now, a parent looking to sock away extra money to pay for braces will find themselves quickly hitting this new cap, meaning they would have to pony up some or all of the cost with after-tax dollars.
Needless to say, this tax will especially impact middle class families.
Pope Francis assures sceptics: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
by Michael Day, The Independent
In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.
Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic journal The Tablet, said the pontiff’s comments were further evidence of his attempts to shake off the Catholic Church’s fusty image, reinforced by his extremely conservative predecessor Benedict XVI. “Francis is a still a conservative,” said Mr Mickens. “But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world.”
Farewell to Big Sister:
Janet Napolitano’s Orwellian Legacy Lives On
By John W. Whitehead
News headlines to the contrary, there is actually more taking place right now than just the Obama administration’s conveniently distracting push for military action against Syria.
We’re still having our privacy rights ravaged by the surveillance state. The latest revelations confirm long-standing fears that there is nothing private from the government, which has used a variety of covert, unconstitutional tactics to gain access to Americans’ personal data, online purchases and banking, medical records, and online communications. The government’s methods include the use of supercomputers to hack through privacy settings, collaborations with corporations to create “back doors” for NSA access into encrypted files, and the use of strong-arm tactics against those technology and internet companies who refuse to cooperate.
We’re still being taken to the cleaners by a fiscally irresponsible and semi-corrupt government. Not only does Congress continue to spend money we don’t have on pork-barrel projects, but we’re writing welfare checks to regimes in the Middle East, sending billions of dollars in “foreign aid” to Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Egypt, among others. That aid usually takes the form of military aid (money for weapons, aircraft, and other military hardware from U.S. companies, as well as training at U.S. military schools) and economic aid. Earlier this year, President Obama approved a foreign aid package that translates to more than $11 million per day in military aid for Israel. As if that didn’t burden taxpayers enough, you can add a $4 million and counting printing error to the tab as a result of problems with the new $100 bill (the first batch had blank spots, the second batch was stolen by thieves, and this latest batch had too much ink).
And we’re still being terrorized by an out-of-control police state. Daily, there are new headlines about SWAT teams breaking down doors and militarized police shooting unarmed citizens. A 107-year-old Arkansas man is dead after a “shootout” with a SWAT team. Then there was the 16-year-old teenager who skipped school only to be shot by police after they mistook him for a fleeing burglar. Or the July 26 shooting of an unarmed black man in Austin “who was pursued and shot in the back of the neck by Austin Police… after failing to properly identify himself and leaving the scene of an unrelated incident.” Or the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands.
And then there’s the news about Friday, September 6, 2013, being Janet Napolitano’s last day as head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before she starts her new job as head of the University of California school system. The student government of UC Berkley is actually considering a “no confidence” vote in Napolitano’s role as president. As one of the student representatives behind the “no confidence” vote effort noted, Napolitano “comes from a background of surveillance and apprehension and security.”
Indeed, under Napolitano’s leadership, the DHS managed to entrench the federal government’s power in an increasingly Orwellian America at great cost to Americans’ civil liberties. Her replacement has yet to be named, although it has been suggested that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, an even more egregious offender of civil liberties, could be tapped to replace her.
Lest we forget, the following are some of Napolitano’s “greatest hits” when it comes to civil liberties violations. They are explored in greater depth in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.
If You See Something, Say Something: In December 2010, Napolitano created a partnership between DHS and America’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, in order to encourage shoppers to report “suspicious” activity to store management. Likening the initiative to “the Cold War fight against communists,” Napolitano recorded a video message to be played at hundreds of Wal-Mart locations across the country, telling shoppers “if you see something, say something.” This blatantly Orwellian citizen spying program also spread to other outlets including “Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, [and] sports and general aviation industries.”
Constitution-Free Border Control: Arguments aside over the need to control illegal immigration, the American border has become a model for the emerging American police state due in large part to the DHS. Under Napolitano’s direction, the government’s efforts along the border have become little more than an exercise in police state power, ranging from aggressive checkpoints to the widespread use of drone technology, often used against American citizens traveling within the country. Border patrol operations occur within 100 miles of an international crossing, putting some 200 million Americans within the bounds of aggressive border patrol searches and seizures, as well as increasingly expansive drone surveillance.
With 71 checkpoints found along the southwest border of the United States alone, suspicionless search and seizures on the border are rampant. According to the ACLU: “Between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, over 6,500 people — nearly 3,000 of them U.S. citizens — were subjected to a search of their electronic devices as they crossed U.S. borders. DHS claims it has the right to conduct these invasive searches whenever it likes, to whomever it likes, and without having any individualized suspicion.”
Drones: Napolitano has already pushed for the expansion of drone surveillance from border zones to the interior of the United States. Drone surveillance has expanded on the American-Canadian border in recent years, including drones patrolling the 950 miles of Washington state’s north border. A 2010 document signed by Napolitano and obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation via a Freedom of Information Act request shows that DHS has begun developing plans to mount so-called “non-lethal weapons” on drones operated by Customs and Border Protection. According to the document, the weapons would be used against “targets of interest,” described as people or vehicles carrying smugglers or undocumented immigrants.
Fusion Centers: While fusion centers—data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency (NSA)—were in operation prior to Napolitano’s ascension to the head of DHS, she doubled down on the program early on in her tenure, insisting “that Fusion Centers will be the centerpiece of state, local, federal intelligence-sharing for the future and that the Department of Homeland Security will be working and aiming its programs to underlie Fusion Centers.” These fusion centers constantly monitor our communications, everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails. This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected—the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police—a relationship which will make a transition to martial law that much easier. As of 2009, the government admitted to having at least 72 fusion centers. A map released by the ACLU indicates that every state except Idaho has a fusion center in operation or formation.
Spying on Activists, Dissidents and Veterans: In 2009, DHS released three infamous reports on Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism,” and another entitled Operation Vigilant Eagle, outling a surveillance program targeting veterans. The reports collectively and broadly define extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” Napolitano curtly dismissed concerns by activists, journalists and veterans groups that the DHS was targeting people based upon their ideological beliefs. Fast forward to 2013, when it was revealed that DHS, the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the private sector were working together to conduct nationwide surveillance on protesters’ First Amendment activities.
Stockpiling Ammunition: To add fuel to the fire, DHS has been stockpiling an alarming amount of ammunition in recent years, which only adds to the discomfort of those already leery of the government. According to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, DHS currently has 260 million rounds of ammo in stock, which averages out to between 1,300 to 1,600 rounds per officer. The US Army, meanwhile, has roughly 350 rounds per soldier.
TSA: Under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which falls under DHS authority, American travelers have been subjected to all manner of searches ranging from whole-body scanners and enhanced patdowns at airports to bag searches in train stations. Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) task forces, comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams laid the groundwork for the government’s effort to secure so-called “soft” targets such as malls, stadiums, bridges, etc. Some security experts predict that checkpoints and screening stations will eventually be established at all soft targets, such as department stores, restaurants, and schools. Given the virtually limitless number of potential soft targets vulnerable to terrorist attack, subjection to intrusive pat-downs and full-body imaging will become an integral component of everyday life in the United States.
Defending the NSA: In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the immensity of the NSA’s spying programs, Napolitano has defended the NSA’s actions. Insisting that there are “lots of protections built into the system,” Napolitano remarked, “I think people have gotten the idea that there’s an Orwellian state out there that somehow we’re operating in. That’s far from the case… No one should believe that we are simply going willy-nilly and using any kind of data that we can gather.”
The reality, of course, is that we are indeed living in an Orwellian state engineered in no small part by Big Sister herself.
As I’ve said for years now – BO was appointed to “deconstruct” the United States and fold it into the new world order…
Collapse of American Influence Recalls Dis-Integration of Soviet Union, Fall of France
By CONRAD BLACK
Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and prior to that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.
The Soviet Union crumbled jurisdictionally: In 1990-1991, one country became the 16 formerly constituent republics of that country, and except perhaps for Belarus, none of them show much disposition to return to the Russian fold into which they had been gathered, almost always by brute force, over the previous 300 years.
The cataclysmic decline of France, of course, was the result of being overrun by Nazi Germany in 1940. And while it took until the return of de Gaulle in 1958 and the establishment of the Fifth Republic with durable governments and a serious currency, and the end of the Algerian War in 1962, and the addition of some other cubits to France’s stature, the largest step in its resurrection was accomplished by the Allied armies sweeping the Germans out of France in 1944.
What we are witnessing now in the United States, by contrast, is just the backwash of inept policy-making in Washington, and nothing that could not eventually be put right. But for this administration to redeem its credibility now would require a change of direction and method so radical it would be the national equivalent of the comeback of Lazarus: a miraculous revolution in the condition of an individual (President Obama), and a comparable metamorphosis (or a comprehensive replacement) of the astonishingly implausible claque around him.
Until recently, it would have been unimaginable to conceive of John Kerry as the strongman of the National Security Council. This is the man who attended political catechism classes from the North Vietnamese to memorize and repeat their accusations against his country of war crimes in Indochina, and, inter alia, ran for president in 2004 asserting that while he had voted to invade Iraq in 2003, he was not implicated in that decision because he did not vote to fund the invasion once underway. (Perhaps Thomas E. Dewey would have been an upset presidential winner in 1944 if he had proclaimed his support for the D-Day landings but advocated an immediate cut-off of funds for General Eisenhower’s armies of liberation.)
Bill Clinton pretending to be a vegan so he can talk about being a vegan
by Charles C. Johnson
The Daily Caller
President Bill Clinton has been telling everyone he is a vegan since 2009, but it turns out Clinton’s a liar.
The former president, who has been enlisted to sell the nation on Obamacare, told reporters that he was joining his daughter, Chelsea, in an all vegan diet after he had had heart trouble. He was even named PETA’s person of the year in 2010.
But in a recent interview with AARP, Clinton said he ate salmon and omelets once a week.
Clinton urged Americans to stop eating meat products as well, telling the interviewer that veganism is good for “your own well-being” and “your country.”
“The way we consume food and what we consume” are driving up health care costs to unaffordable levels. You have to make a conscious decision to change for your own well-being, and that of your family and your country,” he added.
“He had the filet mignon last time he was here, four months ago,” Javier Blazquez, the son of the owner of Casa Lucio in Madrid, told The New York Times in 2010. “The doctors tell him not to eat it, but he does anyway.”
I am not naive. I know turning this country back to what it used to be is naive. However, at this point in history, the people with real conviction and guts in this country need to make some bold decisions.
Didn’t you get the memo? The globalists brag in their writings that they want to reduce the global population by 95%. Real men do not succumb to tyranny without a fight. Most of us are not going to survive what is coming anyway, so wouldn’t you rather put up a fight and die with dignity or would you rather be marched off to a FEMA camp without offering so much as a whimper? We have a choice America. And even if this government is able to defeat the Syrians, the Iranians, the Indians, the Chinese and the Russians, do you really want to be a part of such a horrific regime which will rival the death and destruction of any despotic regime in the history of the planet? For myself, I am choosing morality over despotism, right over wrong and Christianity over Satanism. I cannot be killed, only my address will change.
It is time for the American people to “man up.” The day has come where the people who truly understand what it means to be an American need to stand up to this tyrannical and out of control establishment whose lunatic leaders are preparing to lead us into WWIII.
In the next part of this series, I am going to illustrate how quickly things can unravel in our society which will be beset by war. Once we attack Syria, life in America could be impacted as quickly as 24-48 hours as this will not be a benign event for America like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were. But for now, it is time to identify our enemy, resist and make plans to survive.
A Nation of Sheep, Ruled by Wolves and Owned by Bankster Pigs
The world is ready to be plunged into a struggle like none other the people of this planet has ever seen. Millions, if not billions, will die unnecessary deaths and modern civilization will be brought to its knees as a result of the lunatics who run this planet. And why will this happen? Our people and our way of life will perish in order to satisfy the greed and lust for power by a few morally deprived persons on Wall Street.
The bankers who have hijacked this government are nothing but a pack of warmongering murderers. These morally deprived creatures have murdered millions of innocent people in Iraq simply because Saddam Hussein was selling oil for Euros instead of the almighty dollar. These same criminals murdered hundreds of thousands in Libya. These psychopaths armed al-Qaeda which led to the unwarranted murder of a legitimate head of state in Libya. This is the same al-Qaeda that these psychopaths funded to carry out the attacks of 9/11. This is the same al-Qaeda who our CIA let get control of 20,000 stinger missiles following the fall of Libya. Care to guess whose planes they will be shooting down in the upcoming staged terror attacks which will serve as a prelude to martial law? If a person thinks the upcoming attack on Syria, will stop with Syria, then that person is hopelessly deluded….
Here’s What Candidate Obama Said About Military Intervention In 2007
Submitted by Michael Krieger:
Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
Ok, so Obama lied again… what’s new. Well what’s new is that launching missiles into Syria right now could lead to a much wider global conflagration, i.e. World War III. I don’t think anybody wants that. Or do they? It actually seems as if the sociopaths in charge of these United States DO want this, and therefore we must do everything we can to prevent it from happening.
Not only is it key to inform people how ridiculous it is to say a chemical weapons attack is a reason for war when the U.S. government itself aided Saddam Hussein in chemical warfare in the 1980′s, but we must also explain to people that use of force in Syria is entirely unconstitutional.
While candidate Obama clearly understood this, President Obama is suffering from another case of chronic constitutional amnesia, a condition he developed on or around January 19, 2009. This maniac, who we call President, is suddenly parading around like this war is his to start. As if he is some sort of Emperor.
Obama Gives Bush “Absolute Immunity” For Everything
by Abby Zimet
Days before Bradley – now Chelsea – Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for helping expose U.S. war crimes in Iraq, the Obama Department of Justice filed a petition in federal court arguing that the perpetrators of those crimes – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al – enjoy “absolute immunity” against criminal charges or civil liability. The filing came in a suit brought by Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, who alleges that the planning and waging of the Iraq war under false pretenses constituted a “crime of aggression” under a law used in the Nuremberg trials. With neither Congress nor Obama willing to hold Bush & Co. accountable for the Iraq catastrophe, supporters see the suit as a last-chance tactic to force the issue back into the public eye – an effort the Obama adminstration clearly opposes. More, all dispiriting, on the increasingly flawed Bush-Obama-lesser-of-two-evils thesis, and the current culture of impunity.
Black unemployment, which at the end of the Bush administration broke a decades-long pattern of being twice white unemployment, has resumed its disturbing and prolonged trend under President Obama, with the rate among African Americans now at 13.4 percent, according to a new Pew Research report.
In a report timed for release on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Dream” speech, Pew said on Thursday: “Much has changed for African-Americans since the 1963 March on Washington (which, recall, was a march for ‘Jobs and Freedom’), but one thing hasn’t: The unemployment rate among blacks is about double that among whites, as it has been for most of the past six decades.”
The trend broke at the end of former President George W. Bush’s administration as the recession hit whites more, temporarily boosting their unemployment rate.
Senior TIME Reporter Calls for Drone Strike on Wikileaks’ Assange
by Anthony Gucciardi
Less than one month after writing an article advocating the creation of a 1984-style police state within the US, TIME Magazine’s senior correspondent Michael Grunwald now says he ‘can’t wait’ to cheer on the death of Wikileak’s Julian Assange. In fact, he specifically can’t wait to support a drone strike on Assange.
It’s essential to remember that this is the very same individual who wrote what very well may be among the most moronic and brainwashed articles in recent history, entitled ‘Tread on Me: The Case for Freedom From Terrorist Bombings, School Shootings and Exploding Factories’. And in this article, Grunwald effectively attaches himself to everything that is wrong with the mainstream left and right parties — all at once.
But we’ll get to how Grunwald says we need the government to protect us from everything like natural disasters and terrorists in a minute.
Despite deleting the Tweet after sending it out, likely because he realized the response of rational individuals would be to criticize him, various Twitter users were able to capture and re-Tweet the 140 character death fantasy over Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. The Tweet, as shown in a screenshot below, read:
“I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange”
Because nothing is more satisfying than sending out a predator drone to murder an investigative journalist slash whistleblower, right Michael? This Tweet truly sounds like it’s a parody of the Obama White House propaganda factory, acting as if whistleblowers are the real threat to the American people. Because the concern is certainly not based around Obama going around with secret orders and starting proxy wars with Russia via the arming of Syrian rebels in Syria.
No way, it’s the investigative journalists we need to watch out for.
What is privacy? Why should we want to hold onto it? Why is it important, necessary, precious?
Is it just some prissy relic of the pretechnological past?
We talk about this now because of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency revelations, and new fears that we are operating, all of us, within what has become or is becoming a massive surveillance state. They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails. They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours. This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.
Is it excessive? It certainly appears to be. Does that matter? Yes. Among other reasons: The end of the expectation that citizens’ communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country.
Among the pertinent definitions of privacy from the Oxford English Dictionary: “freedom from disturbance or intrusion,” “intended only for the use of a particular person or persons,” belonging to “the property of a particular person.” Also: “confidential, not to be disclosed to others.” Among others, the OED quotes the playwright Arthur Miller, describing the McCarthy era: “Conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration.”
Privacy is connected to personhood. It has to do with intimate things—the innards of your head and heart, the workings of your mind—and the boundary between those things and the world outside.
A loss of the expectation of privacy in communications is a loss of something personal and intimate, and it will have broader implications. That is the view of Nat Hentoff, the great journalist and civil libertarian. He is 88 now and on fire on the issue of privacy. “The media has awakened,” he told me. “Congress has awakened, to some extent.” Both are beginning to realize “that there are particular constitutional liberty rights that [Americans] have that distinguish them from all other people, and one of them is privacy.”
Mr. Hentoff sees excessive government surveillance as violative of the Fourth Amendment, which protects “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that warrants be issued only “upon probable cause . . . particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
But Mr. Hentoff sees the surveillance state as a threat to free speech, too. About a year ago he went up to Harvard to speak to a class. He asked, he recalled: “How many of you realize the connection between what’s happening with the Fourth Amendment with the First Amendment?” He told the students that if citizens don’t have basic privacies—firm protections against the search and seizure of your private communications, for instance—they will be left feeling “threatened.” This will make citizens increasingly concerned “about what they say, and they do, and they think.” It will have the effect of constricting freedom of expression. Americans will become careful about what they say that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and then too careful about what they say that can be understood. The inevitable end of surveillance is self-censorship.
All of a sudden, the room became quiet. “These were bright kids, interested, concerned, but they hadn’t made an obvious connection about who we are as a people.” We are “free citizens in a self-governing republic.”
Mr. Hentoff once asked Justice William Brennan “a schoolboy’s question”: What is the most important amendment to the Constitution? “Brennan said the First Amendment, because all the other ones come from that. If you don’t have free speech you have to be afraid, you lack a vital part of what it is to be a human being who is free to be who you want to be.” Your own growth as a person will in time be constricted, because we come to know ourselves by our thoughts.
He wonders if Americans know who they are compared to what the Constitution says they are.
Fallujah veteran says government is afraid of its own citizens
by Paul Joseph Watson
A former Marine Corps Colonel who was stationed in Fallujah and trained Iraqi soldiers warns that the Department of Homeland Security is working with law enforcement to build a “domestic army,” because the federal government is afraid of its own citizens.
The comments by the Colonel Peter Martino were made during public testimony at a Concord City Council meeting on Tuesday. The meeting concerned a decision on whether to accept a $260,000 Homeland Security grant on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle.
The purchase of the vehicle has been surrounded by controversy after the city’s Police Chief wrote in an application filing to the DHS that the vehicle was needed to deal with the “threat” posed by libertarians, sovereign citizen adherents, and Occupy activists in the region.
Referencing signs in the crowd which read “More Mayberry, Less Fallujah,” the Colonel spoke of how he didn’t even have armored vehicles when he was stationed in Fallujah.
Martino’s role as a Ministry of Defense coordinator was to command, train and equip the Iraqi Army, noting that he helped do everything he could “to make it as strong as possible,” but that “Homeland Security would kick their butts in a week.”
Stressing that it was unlawful and unconstitutional to use US troops on American soil, the Colonel warned, “What’s happening here is we’re building a domestic military,” adding that police are now “wearing the exact same combat gear that we had in Iraq, only it was a different color.”
Martino warned that the DHS was following military tactics by, “pre-staging gear and equipment” in order to build a “domestic army” while shrinking the US military “because the government is afraid of its own citizens.”
The Colonel slammed the idea of law enforcement purchasing militarized vehicles for domestic security, noting, “The last time more than ten terrorists were in one place at the same time was September 11th and all these vehicles in the world wouldn’t have prevented it nor would it have helped anybody.”
“I don’t know where we’re going to use this many vehicles or this many troops,” he continued, “Concord is just one cog in the wheel – we’re building an army over here and I can’t believe that people aren’t seeing it – is everybody blind?”
Americans will soon be locked into an unaccountable police state unless US Representatives and Senators find the courage to ask questions and to sanction the executive branch officials who break the law, violate the Constitution, withhold information from Congress, and give false information about their crimes against law, the Constitution, the American people and those in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. Congress needs to use the impeachment power that the Constitution provides and cease being subservient to the lawless executive branch. The US faces no threat that justifies the lawlessness and abuse of police powers that characterize the executive branch in the 21st century.
Impeachment is the most important power of Congress. Impeachment is what protects the citizens, the Constitution, and the other branches of government from abuse by the executive branch. If the power to remove abusive executive branch officials is not used, the power ceases to exist. An unused power is like a dead letter law. Its authority disappears. By acquiescing to executive branch lawlessness, Congress has allowed the executive branch to place itself above law and to escape accountability for its violations of law and the Constitution.
National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper blatantly lied to Congress and remains in office. Keith B. Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, has also misled Congress, and he remains in office. Attorney General Holder avoids telling Congress the truth on just about every subject, and he also remains in office. The same can be said for President Obama, one of the great deceivers of our time, who is so adverse to truth that truth seldom finds its way out of his mouth.
If an American citizen lies to a federal investigator, even if not under oath, the citizen can be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison. Yet, these same federal personnel can lie to Congress and to citizens with impunity. Whatever the American political system is, it has nothing whatsoever to do with accountable government. In Amerika no one is accountable but citizens, who are accountable not only to law but also to unaccountable charges for which no evidence is required.
Congress has the power to impeach any presidential appointee as well as the president. In the 1970s Congress was going to impeach President Richard Nixon simply because he lied about when he learned of the Watergate burglary. To avoid impeachment, Nixon resigned. In the 1990s, the House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying about his sexual affair with a White House intern. The Senate failed to convict, no doubt as many had sexual affairs of their own and didn’t want to be held accountable themselves.
In the 1970s when I was on the Senate staff, corporate lobbyists would send attractive women to seduce Senators so that the interest groups could blackmail the Senators to do their bidding. Don’t be surprised if the NSA has adopted this corporate practice.
The improprieties of Nixon and Clinton were minor, indeed of little consequence, when compared to the crimes of George W. Bush and Obama, their vice presidents, and the bulk of their presidential appointees. Yet, impeachment is “off the table,” as Nancy Pelosi infamously declared. http://www.nytimes.com/cq/2006/11/08/cq_1916.html Why do Californian voters send a person to Congress who refuses to protect them from an unaccountable executive branch? Who does Nancy Pelosi serve? Certainly not the people of California. Most certainly not the US Constitution. Pelosi is in total violation of her oath of office. Will Californians re-elect her yet again? Little wonder America is failing.
The question demanding to be asked is: What is the purpose of the domestic surveillance of all Americans? This is surveillance out of all proportion to the alleged terrorist threat. The US Constitution is being ignored and domestic law violated. Why? Does the US government have an undeclared agenda for which the “terrorist threat” is a cover?
What is this agenda? Whose agenda is more important than the US Constitution and the accountability of government to law? No citizen is secure unless government is accountable to the Constitution and to law. It is an absurd idea that any American is more threatened by terrorism than by unaccountable government that can execute them, torture them, and throw them in prison for life without due process or any accountability whatsoever. Under Bush/Obama, the US has returned to the unaccountable power of caesars, czars, and autocrats.
Pope Francis on Sunday urged Christians and Muslims to promote mutual respect , especially through the education of new generations. His remarks came at the end of his Angelus address when he sent greetings to Muslims throughout the world who have just celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about how God’s love is our greatest treasure. He said today’s gospel reading from St Luke talks to us about our desire for a meeting with Christ, calling it a key aspect of human life. All of us, the Pope said, “have this desire in our hearts, be it explicit or hidden.” In St. Luke’s account of Jesus walking with his disciples towards Jerusalem, Christ reveals to them what is really important for him at that time. The Pope says Jesus’s thoughts include a distancing from earthly goods, faith in the providence of the Father and his interior vigilance while awaiting the Kingdom of God. This gospel account, he continues, teaches us that a Christian is someone who carries within him a deep desire to meet the Lord together with his brethren and his companions along the way. All this can be summed up in Jesus’ words: “for wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too.”
Addressing the pilgrims directly, Pope Francis asked them two questions, “do you have a heart with a wish or do you have a closed heart, a sleeping heart, a heart that is anesthetized.” His second question for the pilgrims was: “Where is your treasure”, what for you is the most important and precious reality that attracts your heart like a magnet?” “Is it” he asked, “God’s love which is the desire to do good to others and live for the Lord?” Pope Francis went on to describe how God’s love keeps a family united and gives meaning to our daily tasks and also helps us to face up to the big challenges. This, he declared, is the true treasure for mankind. God’s love isn’t something vague and generic, “it has a name and a face, Jesus Christ.” The Pope said “God’s love gives value and beauty to every human activity” and it gives meaning to negative experiences. That’s because God’s love allows us to move beyond those experiences and not remain prisoners of evil but also be open to hope and the final destination of our pilgrimage.
Members, staff will keep health-care subsidies under Obamacare
Yeah, I got your back…
Members of Congress and Hill staffers will not lose their health-care subsidies from the government when Obamacare is implemented because of an exception proposed Wednesday by the Office of Personnel Management.
Under the current system, the government covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members and their staffers. But an amendment to the Affordable Care Act — proposed by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley — threw those subsidies into question saying that members and staff must enter into the exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.
The potential for staff losing the subsidies led to concerns of “brain drain” from the Hill if staffers left as a result of the increased costs.
Last week, when President Barack Obama came to the Hill to meet with Senate Democrats, he informed them that he would personally get involved to sort out the confusion, and the White House said that OPM would issue guidelines this week. Obama takes care of his own!
Obama’s abuse of the Espionage Act is modern-day McCarthyism
Shame on this president for persecuting whistleblowers with a legal relic, while administration officials leak with impunity
The conviction of Bradley Manning under the 1917 Espionage Act, and the US Justice Department’s decision to file espionage charges against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden under the same act, are yet further examples of the Obama administration’s policy of using an iron fist against human rights and civil liberties activists.
President Obama has been unprecedented in his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute those whose whistleblowing he wants to curtail. The purpose of an Espionage Act prosecution, however, is not to punish a person for spying for the enemy, selling secrets for personal gain, or trying to undermine our way of life. It is to ruin the whistleblower personally, professionally and financially. It is meant to send a message to anybody else considering speaking truth to power: challenge us and we will destroy you.
Only ten people in American history have been charged with espionage for leaking classified information, seven of them under Barack Obama. The effect of the charge on a person’s life – being viewed as a traitor, being shunned by family and friends, incurring massive legal bills – is all a part of the plan to force the whistleblower into personal ruin, to weaken him to the point where he will plead guilty to just about anything to make the case go away. I know. The three espionage charges against me made me one of “the Obama Seven”.
George Soros-funded Foundations Contribute to Anti-Israel Groups
Billionaire George Soros’ network of foundations contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to groups that wage “political warfare” against Israel, according to a new report.
The report by NGO Monitor tracks the finances of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which are headquartered in New York City and provide grants to numerous domestic and international programs—including several in the Middle East. OSF’s global network spent almost $910 million in 2012.
Several of the OFS-sponsored groups support boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns against Israel, equate Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with South Africa’s former apartheid regime, and in some cases deny Israel’s right to exist.
One of those groups is Adalah, a human rights organization and litigator for 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs living in Israel that has previously received funding from an OSF branch. Adalah has decried what it views as “racist” laws affecting Palestinian citizens in Israel and compared the “colonial designs” of Israeli settlements to apartheid.
Adalah received $475,950 in 2010 and $204,275 in 2011 from the New Israel Fund, a group with ties to OSF, according to the fund’s financial reports.
Gisha, an Israeli nonprofit organization funded by OSF entities, aims to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents,” the group’s website states. The organization routinely contests Israeli security measures in court, such as the blockade of Gaza and other movement restrictions.
Gisha collected $658,000 from OSF entities between 2007 and 2011, according to the report.
“[The funding of groups by OSF entities] suggests a pattern of institutional hostility to Israel that really doesn’t advance the cause of peaceful coexistence and a negotiated settlement,” Alexander Joffe, historian and author of the report, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Soros has criticized Israel and donated large sums to groups that focus their work on criticizing the Jewish state. He awarded his largest ever grant of $100 million to the controversial group Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2010, after HRW’s founder publicly censured the group over directing the “brunt” of its criticism toward Israel.
Evidence mounts. America crossed the line. It operates lawlessly. It reflects police state ruthlessness. Big Brother’s real. It’s not fiction. It watches everyone.
It’s about control, espionage and intimidation. It targets fundamental freedoms. It has nothing to do with national security. America’s only threats are ones it invents. It does so for political advantage.
On July 31, London’s Guardian headlined “XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the Internet.’ ”
It “gives ‘widest reading’ collection of online data. NSA analysts require no prior authorizations for searches.” They sweep up “emails, social media and browsing history.”
Every keystroke enters a database. NSA training materials call XKeyscore its “widest-reaching” online intelligence gathering tool. Agency officials call it their Digital Network Intelligence (DNI).
It collects “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.” Virtually nothing escapes scrutiny.
London’s Guardian used classified information. It’s sourced from a February 2008 presentation. It’s about meta-data mining. It’s chilling. It’s worst than previously thought.
It explains what Edward Snowden meant, saying:
“I, sitting at my desk, (can) wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email” address.
At the time, US officials scoffed. House Republican Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mike Rogers said:
“He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”
According to Guardian contributor Glenn Greenwald:
XKeyscore lets analysts “mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search.”
“The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.”
Agency personnel use XKeyscore and other systems for “real-time” interception of personal online activity.
US statutes require FISA warrants when targeting a “US person.” It doesn’t matter. NSA operates extrajudicially. XKeyscore permits doing so with technological ease.
The American people have suffered a coup d’etat, but they are hesitant to acknowledge it. The regime ruling in Washington today lacks constitutional and legal legitimacy. Americans are ruled by usurpers who claim that the executive branch is above the law and that the US Constitution is a mere “scrap of paper.”
An unconstitutional government is an illegitimate government. The oath of allegiance requires defense of the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As the Founding Fathers made clear, the main enemy of the Constitution is the government itself. Power does not like to be bound and tied down and constantly works to free itself from constraints.
The basis of the regime in Washington is nothing but usurped power. The Obama Regime, like the Bush/Cheney Regime, has no legitimacy. Americans are oppressed by an illegitimate government ruling, not by law and the Constitution, but by lies and naked force. Those in government see the US Constitution as a “chain that binds our hands.”
Note: Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously the editor of the Wall Street Journal.
Obama executive order requires federal government employees to learn to spy on co-workers, to prevent more WikiLeaks-type disclosures
The familiar command ‘If you see something, say something’ has been moved into the federal government’s workplaces, according to a new report.
The government’s Insider Threat Program, a comprehensive initiative that stretches across 5 million security-cleared employees of all federal agencies and their contractors, was brought to life following an executive order from President Obama in 2011. He issued the directive after Army Private Bradley Manning sent untold numbers of classified documents to the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website.
The initiative asks federal government employees to spy on their co-workers, reporting to program agents on their unusual behaviors, strange attitudes, financial troubles and unprecedented travel – all indicators that a ‘high-risk’ person might be engaged in espionage or other leaking of secret materials in a way that might cause ‘harm to the United States.’
WASHINGTON — In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.
The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.
Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.
Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”
Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.
Contrary to popular myth, the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not great Americans. Instead, they were great Englishmen. In fact, they were as much English citizens as Americans today are American citizens. It’s easy to forget that the revolutionaries in 1776 were people who took up arms against their own government.
So how is it that these men are considered patriots? Well, the truth is that their government didn’t consider them patriots at all. Their government considered them to be bad guys — traitors, all of whom deserved to be hanged for treason.
Most of us consider the signers of the Declaration of Independence to be patriots because of their courage in taking a stand against the wrongdoing and tyranny of their own government, even risking their lives in the process.
Yet not even the patriotism and courage of these English citizens constitutes the foremost significance of the Fourth of July, any more than the military victory over their government’s forces at Yorktown does.
Instead, the real significance of the Fourth of July lies in the expression of what is undoubtedly the most revolutionary political declaration in history: that man’s rights are inherent, God-given, and natural and, thus, do not come from government.
President Obama was playing to his most extreme “green” constituency in his climate and energy speech at Georgetown University today, blasting global warming skeptics as “flat-earth society” ostriches with their heads in the sand. President Obama said he does not have “patience for anyone who denies that this problem is real.”
“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society,” Obama said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” Obama claimed that the call for urgent action to stem the threat of global warming is based on the “overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry, of physics, and millions of measurements.”
The president apparently has not gotten the memos; his Oval Office staff must be keeping him in the dark concerning very important recent developments in climate science and even more significant developments in climate and energy policies. As we reported yesterday, some of the leading voices in the global warming alarmist choir have been admitting that the climate catastrophes predicted by the computer models have not materialized and that the alleged “scientific consensus” is a fraud. The influential British journal, The Economist, suggested in an article on June 20, that “the public has been systematically deceived” for years with all this talk of certainty and consensus about dire consequences attributed to man-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW), and the supposed urgent need for drastic, costly, painful public policies to address the “crisis.”
“The planet is warming. Human activity is contributing to it,” Obama said in his Georgetown speech.
The president seems to be unaware that even top climate alarmists have admitted that there has been no evidence of global warming for at least the past 15 years. This absence of warming has been the source of much head scratching, debating, and theorizing in the climate activist circles. As we have reported, the UK Met Office and Professor Phil Jones, the former director of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, are among the many alarmists who have been forced to acknowledge the reality of the lack of any warming trend or crisis. The New American’s recent articles (see below) on the false consensus list dozens of top scientists who have defected from the alarmist ranks, and provide links showing literally thousands of scientists contest the warming theories President Obama champions as the basis for his energy policy proposals.
The president’s energy program, outlined in this White House Fact Sheet and detailed in “The President’s Climate Action Plan,” both released today, would place onerous new restrictions on coal fired power plants and other fossil fuels and would direct billions more dollars into funding “renewable energy” sources, such as solar and wind. As we have reported, these are policies that have already proven to be enormously wasteful here in the United States, and in Germany and other European nations (see here and here) have proven to be disastrous.
The Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress about NSA surveillance. What else will he lie about?
If President Obama really does welcome a debate about the scope of the U.S. surveillance program, a good first step would be to fire Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Back at an open congressional hearing on March 12, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No sir … not wittingly.” As we all now know, he was lying.
We also now know that Clapper knew he was lying. In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that aired this past Sunday, Clapper was asked why he answered Wyden the way he did. He replied:
“I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] ‘when are you going to … stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is … not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying, ‘No.’ ”
Let’s parse this passage. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden had been briefed on the top-secret-plus programs that we now all know about. That is, he knew that he was putting Clapper in a box; He knew that the true answer to his question was “Yes,” but he also knew that Clapper would have a hard time saying so without making headlines.
But the question was straightforward. It could be answered “yes” or “no,” and Clapper had to know this when he sat there in the witness chair. (Notice that, in his response to Mitchell, Clapper said he came up with the wife-beating analogy only “in retrospect.”) There are many ways that he could have finessed the question, as administration witnesses have done in such settings for decades, but Clapper chose simply to lie. “Truthful” and “untruthful” are not relative terms; a statement either is or isn’t; there’s no such thing as speaking in a “most truthful” or “least untruthful” manner.
Nor was this a spontaneous lie or a lie he regretted making. Wyden revealed in a statement today that he’d given Clapper advance notice that he would ask the question and that, after the hearing, he offered Clapper a chance to revise his answer. Clapper didn’t take the offer.
Clapper’s deceptions don’t stop there. Rambling on in his rationalization to Mitchell, he focused on Wyden’s use of the word “collect,” as in “Did the NSA collect any type of data … on millions of Americans?” Clapper told Mitchell that he envisioned a vast library of books containing vast amounts of data on every American. “To me,” he said, “collection of U.S. persons’ data would mean taking the book off the shelf and opening it up and reading it.”
The economic “recovery” just keeps getting worse for the average worker: U.S. employers squeezed their employees even harder than usual in the first quarter, leading to the biggest drop in hourly pay on record.
Hourly pay for nonfarm workers fell at a 3.8 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Wednesday. This was the biggest quarterly decline since the BLS started keeping track in 1947. Some of the drop was payback for a 9.9 percent surge in hourly pay in the fourth quarter of 2012, as employers shoveled money out the door to avoid tax changes they expected to take place in 2013.
But there have been plenty of such quarterly pay increases in the past. Many were even bigger. Some went on for several quarters at a time. And never has there been such a steep pay drop in response as there was in the first quarter of this year.
Smoothing out the quarterly ups and downs doesn’t make the picture look any better. Hourly worker pay rose just 1.9 percent in 2012, a pitiful increase that barely kept up with the 1.8 percent gain in the consumer price index. That was the third-weakest annual increase in hourly pay since 1947, topping only the 1.4 percent gain in 2009 and a 1.8-percent gain in 1994.
Hourly pay has grown by just 2 percent per year, on average, for the past four years, the weakest four-year stretch on record. At the same time, corporate profits are at record highs, and until a recent swoon, the stock market was setting records, too. Workers haven’t been reaping the rewards, but their employers have been.
The economy hasn’t been getting much out of the bargain lately, either. Worker productivity — hour output per hour worked — gained 0.5 percent in the first quarter, according to the BLS. That’s weaker than the 0.7 percent gain in all of 2012 or the 0.6 percent gain in all of 2011. Productivity is down dramatically from average annual gains of 3 percent in 2009 and 2010.
Weaker productivity could be good news. Maybe employers have hit the limits of how much they can squeeze out of their workers, meaning they’ll have to hire some more.
But it does not bode well for future growth. The U.S. had four straight years of meager productivity going into the Great Recession. Stagnant productivity can erode living standards and leave less money for the kind of research and development that leads to the jobs of the future.
It shouldn’t surprise. It’s longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated. Previous articles said Big Brother is real. It’s no longer fiction.
Mass surveillance is official US policy. It’s not for national security. It’s not about discovering terror or other threats. None whatever exist. Claiming otherwise doesn’t wash. Big Lies substitute for vital truths.
What’s ongoing reflects unchecked power. It’s for unchallenged global dominance. It’s secret with no oversight for good reason. It’s unconstitutional. Societies governed this way are lawless. People living in them aren’t free.
America never was a democracy. It wasn’t created to be one. It’s not one now. Freedom is verboten. It’s vanishing in plain sight. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Police state terror targets non-believers.
Money power runs America. Powerful interests alone matter. What they say goes. What they want they get. Obama’s their nominal front man. Complicit congressional and judicial officials are involved. So are media scoundrels.
They serve wealth, power and privilege. They spurn populist interests. They pretend otherwise. Policies belie official rhetoric. A previous article said impeaching Obama is vital. It’s a national imperative. What’s ongoing now may be prelude for much worse to come.
Police states operate this way. They tolerate no opposition. People wanting to live free and saying so are considered enemies. Challenging government of, by and for privileged elites is criminalized. Expect much worse ahead.
Mass surveillance is all-embracing. There’s no place to hide. Everyone is watched. Non-believers are targeted. Privacy no longer exists.