Patriot Act – Unwanted and Overreaching Intrusion into Our Private Lives

The USA Patriot Act was a great name for marketing a bill that essentially opened the door for our government to spy on American citizens in the name of national security.

The USA Patriot Act of 2001 actually stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.”

George Bush - Patriot ActThe Patriot Act was a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11. Playing off the fears of the American population and their Congressional representatives, the 300+ page bill was fast-tracked to passage. The bill was submitted to the House on October 24, 2001 and a vote scheduled within an hour. The Act passed the House 357 to 66. On October 25, 2001, the Act passed the Senate by 98 to 1, with Democratic Senator Russ Feingold the only dissenting vote. President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law on October 26, 2001.

Obviously the bill did not get read by the House members with only a one hour window for review. Nonetheless, they still voted and passed the bill without really understanding what they were passing. When asked about this, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. commented “We don’t read most of the bills. Do you really know what that would entail if we read every bill that we passed?”

“We’re not sacrificing civil liberties. We’re securing civil liberties.”
– Attorney General John Ashcroft, September 11, 2002

 The purpose of the Patriot Act was to make it easier for the law enforcement agencies to prevent future terrorist attacks against Americans by having access to private information about suspected terrorists. However, it has facilitated the unwanted and overreaching intrusion of government into our own private lives, with very little evidence or cause. The Patriot Act made it easier for the government to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans. It even required public libraries to keep records of who checked out what books, and to submit them to the government upon request. Even worse, it allows the government to arrest and detain American citizens without charge or trial if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is somehow associated with terrorist activity. The Patriot Act actually turns regular American citizens into suspects.

Prior to Edward Snowden’s disclosures we really did not know or understand the scope of our government’s surveillance program. We have now learned that the NSA is collecting massive amounts of bulk data on all American citizens. Government and law enforcement agencies have access to this private personal data without your approval, without you ever knowing, and without a warrant from a judge.

This is a very fine line between violating American citizen’s rights and protecting their lives. Have we sacrificed our civil liberties by creating a police state?

It has been almost fifteen years since the Patriot Act was enacted and the government has obviously taken advantage of our weakened privacy laws and the public’s lack of knowledge. It is time to review every aspect of the Patriot Act and replace it with a law that restores our civil rights and privacy while still providing government and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to assist in providing national security, with limitations.

Last week, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released a report in which he found that the bulk collection of data has not stopped a single act of terror or aided a single federal terrorism prosecution since the Patriot Act became law on October 26, 2001.

This bulk collection of data statute is the section of the Patriot Act that is set to expire on June 1 unless Congress passes an extension.

Bernie Sanders – Agenda for America

Bernie Sanders - Agenda for America

1. Rebuilding Our Crumbling Infrastructure

We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools. It has been estimated that the cost of the Bush-Cheney Iraq War, a war we should never have waged, will total $3 trillion by the time the last veteran receives needed care. A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure could create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive. We need to invest in infrastructure, not more war.

2. Reversing Climate Change

The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change and make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient and we need to greatly accelerate the progress we are already seeing in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other forms of sustainable energy. Transforming our energy system will not only protect the environment, it will create good paying jobs.

3. Creating Worker Co-ops

We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.

4. Growing the Trade Union Movement

Union workers who are able to collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits earn substantially more than non-union workers. Today, corporate opposition to union organizing makes it extremely difficult for workers to join a union. We need legislation which makes it clear that when a majority of workers sign cards in support of a union, they can form a union.

5. Raising the Minimum Wage

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. No one in this country who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty.

6. Pay Equity for Women Workers

Women workers today earn 78 percent of what their male counterparts make. We need pay equity in our country — equal pay for equal work.

7. Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers

Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.

8. Making College Affordable for All

In today’s highly competitive global economy, millions of Americans are unable to afford the higher education they need in order to get good-paying jobs. Further, with both parents now often at work, most working-class families can’t locate the high-quality and affordable child care they need for their kids. Quality education in America, from child care to higher education, must be affordable for all. Without a high-quality and affordable educational system, we will be unable to compete globally and our standard of living will continue to decline.

9. Taking on Wall Street

The function of banking is to facilitate the flow of capital into productive and job-creating activities. Financial institutions cannot be an island unto themselves, standing as huge profit centers outside of the real economy. Today, six huge Wall Street financial institutions have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product – over $9.8 trillion. These institutions underwrite more than half the mortgages in this country and more than two-thirds of the credit cards. The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. They are too powerful to be reformed. They must be broken up.

10. Health Care as a Right for All

The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege. Despite the fact that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

11. Protecting the Most Vulnerable Americans

Millions of seniors live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. We must strengthen the social safety net, not weaken it. Instead of cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs, we should be expanding these programs.

12. Real Tax Reform

At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on ability to pay. It is not acceptable that major profitable corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes, and that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than their secretaries. It is absurd that we lose over $100 billion a year in revenue because corporations and the wealthy stash their cash in offshore tax havens around the world. The time is long overdue for real tax reform.

What more can you want from a candidate for President?  An agenda/platform based on the needs of common American people (99%); honest and sincere; not beholding to large corporations, Wall Street or special interest groups; and not one of the elite (1%).

He should make the debates with Hillary very interesting.

Join Bernie’s campaign and help him fend off the Big Money candidates.

Bernie Sanders – Real Champion of the Average American People

Bernie Sanders is truly a “people’s politician” and the real champion of the average American people. The issues he talks about are the same issues he’s been championing since becoming a Senator. He has a platform that is clear and straight forward and he is able to articulate it clearly for all to understand. Most important, he is not rich and is not beholding to any special interest groups.

“We will not accept a society in which the Koch brothers and other billionaires are able to undermine our Democratic Foundation by buying candidates and elections!”

Bernie is taking his passionate message to the common people (99%) and I’m going to help him spread his message on this site.

Bernie Sanders - We need a growing middle classBernie needs our help. He has already received thousands of small donations from  common, everyday people. He refuses to take money from corporations, Wall Street or special interest groups.

Plain speaking and honest. A rarity in politicians today.

More on Bernie Sanders’ Agenda for America –>

Governor Abbott Saves Texas from Hostile Takeover by Federal Government

The U.S. military announced they will be conducting a joint U.S. Special Forces training exercise in Texas and other states involving special forces from the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.

Thank God that Governor Abbot saw through this deception to the real purpose of this exercise – a hostile takeover of Texas by the federal government.

On Monday, during a public briefing in Bastrop, Texas, Lt. Col. Mark Listoria told a packed crowd of over 200 people about the upcoming Jade Helm 15 military training exercise. He was then called a liar and peppered with questions about whether the government was planning a federal takeover of Texas or implementing Martial Law.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

On Tuesday, Governor Abbott jumped into action by asking the Texas State Guard to keep watch on this potential threat to the freedom-loving people of Texas.

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed upon.”  – Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas

My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise. We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.” – Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, asked during a news conference about the Jade Helm 15 exercise and whether the Pentagon was “planning to overtake Texas,” Carter simply said “no” as people in the packed room laughed.

The state of Texas is home to over 30 military installations with thousands of U.S. Military personnel stationed at them. We don’t see these sites and their troops as a threat to our state. Now that the U.S. Military has an exercise planned, utilizing some of these sites, to train our special forces troops, we see them as a threat. The “best of the best” troops that America has is coming to Texas for training and we don’t trust them.

As a native Texan I am embarrassed.

I would gladly pay to see Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz tell “America’s Best” to their face that “they are seen as a potential threat to the State of Texas’ safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties.”