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Saturday, October 22, 2016

by Kara Brandeisky, ProPublica.

When the House of Representatives recently considered an amendment that would have dismantled the NSA’s bulk phone records collection program, the White House swiftly condemned the measure. But only five years ago, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) was part of a group of legislators that supported substantial changes to NSA surveillance programs. Here are some of the proposals the president co-sponsored as a senator.

As a senator, Obama wanted to limit bulk records collection.

Obama co-sponsored a 2007 bill, introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), that would have required the government to demonstrate, with “specific and articulable facts,” that it wanted records related to “a suspected agent of a foreign power” or the records of people with one degree of separation from a suspect. The bill died in committee. Following pressure from the Bush administration, lawmakers had abandoned a similar 2005 measure, which Obama also supported.

We now know the Obama administration has sought, and obtained, the phone records belonging to all Verizon Business Network Services subscribers (and reportedly, Sprint and AT&T subscribers, as well). Once the NSA has the database, analysts search through the phone records and look at people with two or three degrees of separation from suspected terrorists.

The measure Obama supported in 2007 is actually similar to the House amendment that the White House condemned earlier this month. That measure, introduced by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and John Conyers (D-MI), would have ended bulk phone records collection but still allowed the NSA to collect records related to individual suspects without a warrant based on probable cause.

The 2007 measure is also similar to current proposals introduced by Conyers and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

As a senator, Obama wanted to require government analysts to get court approval before accessing incidentally collected American data.

In Feb. 2008, Obama co-sponsored an amendment, also introduced by Feingold, which would have further limited the ability of the government to collect any communications to or from people residing in the U.S.

The measure would have also required government analysts to segregate all incidentally collected American communications. If analysts wanted to access those communications, they would have needed to apply for individualized surveillance court approval.

The amendment failed 35-63. Obama later reversed his position and supported what became the law now known to authorize the PRISM program. That legislation — the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 — also granted immunity to telecoms that had cooperated with the government on surveillance.

The law ensured the government would not need a court order to collect data from foreigners residing outside the United States. According to the Washington Post, analysts are told that they can compel companies to turn over communications if they are 51 percent certain the data belongs to foreigners.

PowerPoint presentation slides published by the Guardian indicate that when analysts use XKeyscore — the software the NSA uses to sift through huge amounts of raw internet data — they must first justify why they have reason to believe communications are foreign. Analysts can select from rationales available in dropdown menus and then read the communications without court or supervisor approval.

Finally, analysts do not need court approval to look at previously-collected bulk metadata either, even domestic metadata. Instead, the NSA limits access to incidentally collected American data according to its own “minimization” procedures. A leaked 2009 document said that analysts only needed permission from their “shift coordinators” to access previously-collected phone records. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) has introduced a bill that would require analysts to get special court approval to search through telephone metadata.

As a senator, Obama wanted the executive branch to report to Congress how many American communications had been swept up during surveillance.

Feingold’s 2008 amendment, which Obama supported, would have also required the Defense Department and Justice Department to complete a joint audit of all incidentally collected American communications and provide the report to congressional intelligence committees. The amendment failed 35-63.

The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community told Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) last year that it would be unfeasible to estimate how many American communications have been incidentally collected, and doing so would violate Americans’ privacy rights.

As a senator, Obama wanted to restrict the use of gag orders related to surveillance court orders.

Obama co-sponsored at least two measures that would have made it harder for the government to issue nondisclosure orders to businesses when compelling them to turn over customer data.

One 2007 bill would have required the government to demonstrate that disclosure could cause one of six specific harms: by either endangering someone, causing someone to avoid prosecution, encouraging the destruction of evidence, intimidating potential witnesses, interfering with diplomatic relations, or threatening national security. It would have also required the government to show that the gag order was “narrowly tailored” to address those specific dangers. Obama also supported a similar measure in 2005. Neither measure made it out of committee.

The Obama administration has thus far prevented companies from disclosing information about surveillance requests. Verizon’s surveillance court order included a gag order.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Google have filed motions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking permission to release aggregate data about directives they’ve received. Microsoft has said the Justice Department and the FBI had previously denied its requests to release more information. The Justice Department has asked for more time to consider lifting the gag orders.

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  • Eleanore Whitaker

    When you are a senator, the fate of your country and the protection of your people are not your single most focus. When you are president, it is. What I find curious is how it was the House and not the Senate that pushed for these surveillance programs. Since it is the House that decides on spending, how do we know what their basic intent and motives were apart from collecting data to hand to their crony capitalists?

    Let stop playing games here. The ideal Utopia for the GOP would be to allow Big Insurance to collect personal and medical data so they can then create a totally new game plan that would allow them to collect healthcare insurance premiums all while they set up a rejection policy. If they could just get their syrupy mitts on a piece of legislation that allows them to collect DNA, they’d be able to know every individual American’s medical genetics. And wouldn’t that build up their profits?

    The collection of this data has more to do with corporations wanting “in” on personal information than it does on security. Why else would the House be so hot to support surveillance? Particularly, when the number of House Republicans today are in red states that virtually live off defense industries in their states?

    • GreginPottsville

      I am glad you see the crony capitalism going on by our President, such as Solyndra, GM, Comcast, etc. The only capitalism President Obama is for is crony capitalism, where he alone decides winners and losers, not the market (the people).

      • Sand_Cat

        As usual, you’re way off base with your fantasies about crony capitalism, and off topic as well. If you pointed to the president’s hypocrisy and wrongheadedness on the matter discussed in the article instead of reciting made-up or Fox news talking points on irrelevancies, I’d have had to agree with you, even though the thought makes me feel dirty.

        • GreginPottsville

          Eleanore is the one that brought up crony capitalism, and I responded in kind how Obama certainly practices it. Why didn’t you reply to Eleanore instead of me? You surely know that crony capitalism that Obama loves screws up the economy. Look at the middle class since he took office. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on.

          • Sand_Cat

            On Eleanore, fair enough. As for the rest, you clearly haven’t figured out what’s going on, nor have you anything to say that anyone with brains would believe on the economy. Would you like to talk about how Obama has betrayed those of us who voted for him with the spying and the other Bush abuses he’s continued?

          • GreginPottsville

            I haven’t even gotten to the spy thing yet. Obama’s idea is control of everything and everyone, if you haven’t noticed. At least you are a bit more open minded than Eleanore, who seems like a typical blind liberal sheep. I am concerned about the economy and where it is headed. It seems that unless you are in a union, or a big contributor to Obama and Democrats, you are SOL. He believes in central control. And that never worked. It is proven to not work. See Soviet Union, North Korea, etc.

          • charleo1

            And was in the 60’s in Southwest Mo. at the end of July!
            Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out global warming
            is a hoax! That’s the kind of claptrap logic everybody has
            to listen to from the spitball crowd. Look at the economy in
            the fall of ’08, before Barack Obama set foot in the White
            House. I’m sorry, it’s just another intentionally, ignorant, partisan statement. But if you don’t know better, for your
            own sake, you should. You want to be a helpful little lemming
            to the GOP’s shilling for the oil cartels. Gripe about govn’t investment in alternative energy, every chance you get.
            On the other hand, if you learn the history of govn’t investment, and the long term benefits, educate yourself, and the Solandra investment, loss and all, will make sense, and the political demagoguery won’t. It’s really up to you. That’s why cat addressed your comment, and not Eleanor’s.
            I encourage you to actually look at the Middle Class numbers, since Obama took office. It doesn’t take an economist to see the Middle Class is a much better position today. But, it does
            however require that you yourself, actually look.

          • GreginPottsville

            Sorry Charlie, but what middle class?
            Oh, and you sound like a real whiner. Keep blaming GW Bush. I never hear a President whine about past presidents like Obama does. Really, it is pathetic. FACT: Since Obama took office, 9 MILLION LESS JOBS! Nearly 5 years in office and you still cry like a baby it is someone else’s fault. Most people are waking up to reality. Sorry you are not.

          • charleo1

            Like I said, get an education! You’re wasting your time, and

          • GreginPottsville

            My educating you is a waste of time, since you wish to continue to be one of the blind liberal sheep. What I do with my time, is my business. I know that doesn’t compute on the liberal mind.

          • charleo1

            Your educating me is a hoot. Take a look at those Middle
            Class numbers yet? No. Figure out anything specific Obama
            supposedly did to destroy the economy? The Middle Class?
            No. Maybe govn’t investment, besides Solendra? No. Are
            you afraid of facts, or just too lazy to learn any? I’ll even help.
            You say, “Obama has cost the economy 9 million jobs since
            he took office by_____. Since the economy lost 780,000 jobs
            the month Obama took office. (on the 22) And had lost over
            half a million the month before. Saying, “Since Obama took office, there is 9 million less jobs is meaningless. Less than
            when? See, what needs doing, is to point to a recession in
            the past, where lowering corporate, and top end tax rates
            has lowered unemployment. Or recall a recession where the
            Federal deficits weren’t increased. Or, reducing the size of
            Government created jobs in the private sector. Know why you can’t? Because those cases have never existed. But,
            go ahead, and look for them anyway. I mean, why believe a
            blind sheep?

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Gregg…Wrong again. Crony capitalism has screwed up this economy long before Obama EVER took office. The very idea that Koch billionaires would not for one second have reservations about “trickling down” their wealth is as hopeless as you seeing a unicorn in your lifetime.

            Now…do the math. You ship jobs overseas in the millions. End US manufacturing and most blue collar and middle white collar jobs…you create mass unemployment. Part of which these Americans paid for through their payroll deductions and in my case, twice, since my state also deducts for unemployment. Do you think we should have these deductions paid for and then ignored when we need them?

            Crony capitalism since Reagan has reduced the corporate business taxes down to 18.5% from the 90% that was paid in the 1950s. That’s billions upon billions in tax dollars the Middle Class then has to struggle to pay on salaries these crony capitalists have stagnated backward to 1971 levels.

            Brilliant ideas your crony capitalists had there. Get rid of jobs, continue to jack prices on goods and services. Reduce salaries, continue the price gouging and landfills of tax cuts for the wealthy…all while your crony capitalists live high on the hog.

            You can blame this president all you want. We all know it’s essential for your kind to never look at how greed out of control has demolished our economy. Man up or shut up.

          • GreginPottsville

            You are nuts, completely. I would venture to say Sand Cat has a much better grasp of reality than you. You really think a 90% corporate tax rate would be a good thing? Are you a freaking clown? And yet you ignore Solyndra, GM, Comcast, yet you bring up Koch brothers, as if they run the country. Have you seen who has been in power the last 5 years? Have you seen what happened to the middle class the last 5 years? If you want to continue to be blind, go right ahead.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I think YOU are the one who is nuts. Do you deny that the corporate tax in the 1950s WAS got that? WAS 90%? So how can a rational person say it isn’t a good thing? Was unemployment in the 1950s what it has been since 2004? Are you aware that in a healthy economy, unemployment is usually at 5-6% and we are at present slightly over 7.1%?

            You are freaking jerk who wants Middle Class Americans to be at the mercy of your 401K, mutuals and other hoochie coochie investments so you can privatize the entire government right down to our last dime. Grow up Little Boi. I’d bet anything your glut of tax cuts are how you acquire your wealth. When 47% of all US wealth is in the hands of 1% what the hell are you right wing fools trying to pull off? A dictatorship?

            The 1950s were one of the US’s most productive and prosperous periods in history. Today? Your BS attitude is just keep flushing our tax dollars into the 5 major US industries and all so their CEOs never have to suffer a single moment of hardship. Sorry if we do not want your right wing attitude to keep the rest of us working 2 and 3 jobs to live in rampant struggle and hardship. Take your IRAs, your 401Ks and mutuals and enjoy them while you can. What goes Mr. Jerk boi always comes down. I’ve lived long enough to know that one. You clearly have not.

          • GreginPottsville

            When you get your facts straight, get back to me. The highest corporate rate in the 1950’s was about 45%-50%, not 90%, which was the highest marginal “individual” rate, which very few actually paid. Secondly, the 1950’s was a boom because of this little thing called WWII. You may have heard most of Europe was in shambles during this period and America was basically untouched, therefore, much in demand. Sorry you are one of the blind liberal sheep. Try your hocus pocus on some other blind, liberal open to brainwash.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Your facts haven’t been straight since Reagan was allowed to be president. The highest corporate rate according to the US Dept. of the Treasury in 1959…was 90%…You can drop the BS. Or is that all the righties know how to do these days? The boom of the 1950s might have been because of WWII genius boi…you want to explain why seniors in high school caused the Dot.Com bust? That wasn’t in the 1950s.

            Do us all a favor and stow that superiority act. It’s as phony as a $4 dollar bill and just as obnoxious. Sorry you are one of the narrowest of the narrow minds. But we older folks are fed up with your ideas of living with parents until you are 35 and then when you have to become adults and raise children, suddenly you want to all retire on luxuries you haven’t worked long enough to earn and then live off your parents SS and medicare. Get a life losers…You can’t retire at age 50….and certainly not by confiscating that which we older people worked harder and longer than this Twerpie Generation ever will. You have yet to break a sweat sugar pants. Till you do…you know nothing.

          • GreginPottsville

            You are one nutty liberal, angry for sure. Lady, I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 20. My children are fine because I work one full time and two part time jobs. My wife works one full time and one part time job. We volunteer as well. You couldn’t handle earning a living in this Obama economy. I won’t retire till I am 89, if I live that long. We have a life. We work. I doubt you were breaking a sweat at age 10 like I was. You probably far outlived what you contributed, and us workers are paying your freight. And to think you really believe a 90% corporate rate would fix things. Ask any economist and they would laugh you out of the room. I started working when I was 10 by the way, throwing lumps of coal into a crusher. Paper route at 12, lawn mowing by 13, dishwasher at 15. So when you get off your high horse, you might realize some of us in our 30’s do actually work hard.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Congratulations…You know how to work your ass off. Your wife doesn’t earn a paycheck per dollar equal to yours. You think that’s something to be proud of? And you can drop the BS blaming Obama. From 2004 to 2008, according to the US Dept. of Labor 2008 report, 8 million Americans were living on unemployment. That number has now dropped to less than 7 million in just 5 years. It took 10 years to get the US out of the Great Depression Mr. Man Conservative Know it All.

            I’ve worked 3 jobs since 1980. Do try and catch up idiot. I was a single Mom whose salary in 1980 was $10K a year and I had to have top skills to do my job. While men sat on their asses earning twice what I did. Don’t you dare try and pull that “Woe is Me” Routine Mr. Double Income.

            I owned a business at age 17 by going to school every summer so I could graduate with my teaching certificate. You Middle Age White Fat Gut Males are a real joke. You earn two incomes and still can’t manage on them? Let me know how you’d pay off a mortgage as I did in 1996 on a SINGLE income…MINE. You make me laugh…Woe is Me…Poor Lil Me….Pity Pot Syndrome of the Middle Aged at its finest. Obama didn’t tell you to waste your money on a gas guzzling SUV did he? He also didn’t tell you to buy a $400K home you couldn’t really afford. He doesn’t tell you to spend $1200 a year to send your kiddies to sports camps, gymnastics, Karate or the rest of the white Middle Aged excuses for their so-called “poverty.”

            Live simply Ahole. So others may simply live …or is it always ALL about you you you? You want pity when you are living like a king? Try doing it on a single income for 34 years as I’ve done. Then you can talk and pat yourself on the back Mr. Conservative …No…You cannot have the SS or Medicare that was deducted from my paycheck for 34 years. No you are not going to get a dime more of my tax dollars so you can play “Look What I Have that YOU don’t have.”

            I’m liberal when it comes to sticking it to greedy conservatives who want life to be sooooo easy while they make everyone else’s a living hell. Work 34 years, own a business, work 3 jobs after a divorce to feed, house and clothe 2 kids on a single income and then you get the right to complain. The problem with people your age is you think you have to have it all and you don’t care who else gets stiffed so you can. Too bad the older folks are not going to overindulge your selfishness and greed.

          • GreginPottsville

            Re-read what you wrote and tell me you don’t need to see a mental health expert. You are probably the most angry, intolerant, closed-minded, insecure blind sheep here. FYI: We don’t live above our means. Frankly, we give a lot to charity, put a lot into retirement, and rely on God to provide for our needs.
            PS, no surprise you are divorced. Go away.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Reread what you posted and tell me you aren’t a nut job. You need professional help pallie. I’m not angry …I’m fed up with whiney men who like to sit on a pity pot all day long and tell us how they are such Poor Rich. You deny the truth in my post because you aren’t man enough to admit that a single Mom made it on a single income and Mr. Man can’t. Sure you give a lot to charity. You give to get your tax responsibilities reduced…You call giving to get something in return “charity?”

            Go away? You’ve been too far right of mentally rational since the days you left the McMansion basement and the McParents cut you off your trust fund. Most mental cases cannot admit they are unable to be reasoned with. Mental hospitals are loaded with men who can’t be reasoned with and want their way all the time. Grow up little man. You will not help yourself to what I spent 4 decades working for at 3 jobs. You can just wallow in your Poor Rich Pity Pot until it’s time to flush.

          • GreginPottsville

            And I can certainly understand why you are not re-married. Nobody in their right mind would want to put up with you.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I can’t understand what kind of woman would take the trouble to marry a bully boi like you. She must be one of those clinging vines whose entire identity is tied to Mr. Man? Or, perhaps, a butter lover who knows Mr. Man will butter her palms and all she has to do is put out once a week?

            You sound like the typical ASSuming male. I never remarried by choice, sugar pie. I had my chances and turned these guys down.

            In the words of the famous Pearl Bailey, “marriage is something you do once. You do need to do it over and over until you get it right.” She married once and only once to the famous drummer Louie Belson.

            The problem with your generation is that everything you see, you want. Then, you whine you can’t live on 2, count ’em, 2 salaries?

            Get real. If I can make it on one and at a salary you’d consider substandard, you can too. I’m fed up with the whiny Great White Angry Middle Aged Twerps of the Twerpie Generation all complaining like a bunch of Goths headed for extinction.

            You have to work. You have to pay taxes and you as an American OWE ..Got that Genius Boi? You owe because as a member of any society you are connected to everyone else by the obligations you create. It’s called responsibility. When you get some, let me know. Till then, I dismiss your pathetic bully need to have the last word as a case of the Terrible Twos. Now, isn’t it time McWifie did her wifely duty to her sexually frustrated husband?

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        I’m glad you didn’t see the crony capitalism for 8 years that flushed $352 billion of your tax dollars to Halliburton on a no bid contract for a war in Iraq Cheney promised before he was chosen VP. Care to deny that all too coincidental little bit of BS?

        Now…for your enlightenment and edification, Solyndra was a test run. What you righties hate is that Big Oil has long past the ability to sabotage solar energy. In NJ and CA, it’s the only thing creating jobs since your GOP Bull Male Dominator Party is too lazy ass to do that after 5 years….Go to Trinity Solar’s website. They have 32,000 plus customers and counting. Solyndra cost $350 million. We gave big oil $39 BILLION from 2012 to 2014. Man up pallie. As for GM, it has seen a wave of profitability and kept 1 million Americans in jobs…something you righties bitch till the cows come home about because you sickos love all that unemployment that has gone on since 2004. By the way, according to the DOL? Unemployment is now at its lowest since 2007. Got an excuse for that genius boi?

    • Vazir Mukhtar

      I would prefer that no one collected my medical data. Instead I’d like to have them encoded on a Medical Data Card (or call it something else, if you prefer) each time I received medical services. Any health care provider could access those data so as to have information about me that could/should help that provider give me appropriate treatment. Although the data could be accessed, they would be encrypted and could not be recorded w/o my permission or transferred to another machine.

      Now I haven’t worked out all the kinks, paying for the services and goods received, for example, because the idea came to me as I was reading your post, Ms. Whitaker.

      The other option that occurs to me is to overwhelm whoever is gathering and collating my data with so much information that it will be next to impossible to ferret out much more than gibberish w/o the key that I could provide.

      Since businesses and various levels of government with their administrations, bureaus, commissions, etc., will become ever more sophisticated in gathering more information on each individual, those of us who prefer to fly under the radar will find it more difficult to do so. My first thought is that a handful of grit or a spanner thrown into the works at irregular intervals may be a first step in our defence.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Excellent idea! Great post. My only real concern is the middle men in medicine these days…HMOs. It’s a two-edged sword. They collect data on your health and medical treatments. On the one hand, we want what we pay, healthcare insurance. On the other hand, we don’t want HMO clerks having access to our medical records nor do we want HMOs to begin to create templates for insurance acceptability and eligibility. The thin line in the sand is the ability for HMOs to go hi-tech and decide that whole groups of Americans paying for healthcare insurance can be slotted into those who have a propensity toward diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer and other congenitally traced diseases. One great reason for the changes to the ACA is the inability for HMOs to do this. But, the question is…for how long? As soon as a GOP president gets into office, the healthcare goes right back to being the most unaffordable in the world.

  • Toni Paul

    And that’s how he betrayed the American people.

    • Sand_Cat

      Regrettably, he has, in the area of abuse of executive power at least.

      • charleo1

        I disagree. The protection, and defense is the job of the Federal
        Government. Unfortunately at this time, Congress is not capable
        of tying it’s own shoes. Half the GOP is rooting for another attack
        to investigate for the next 3 years! That leaves the President to
        fill the void. And, I’m not being facetious, snarky, or hyperbolic,
        in the least, about some of the radicals in Congress hoping for a significant successful terrorist attack.

        • GreginPottsville

          You are soooo brainwashed. Sand_Cat at least has an open mind, not tied to the liberal agenda.

          • Sand_Cat

            Why thank you. I’m sure there are others who would disagree strongly, but I try.

          • GreginPottsville

            You are welcome. There are a lot of, well let’s say most everyone here would disagree with me even if I said the moon is white with craters, just because I am a conservative. That is blind devotion. And us conservatives have as much of that as your side does.
            I am big on privacy. So, I don’t even need to get into this. I hated it when Bush was President. I sure don’t love it now. We don’t need a police state. Nothing good comes from that.

          • charleo1

            Gotta watch that, “Liberal Agenda,” all right! First thing you
            know, people will be covered by health insurance. And
            guess what? They are going to love it! Just like all them Conservatives sure do love them some SS, and Medicare! Which one of those was a Conservative agenda, by the way? By the way, what have Conservatives ever done that people turned out to really like? The Great Depression? NO! Lower taxes for the wealthy? Not so much. Balanced budgets? It’s what they insist on when Democrats control something. Er, make that control anything. Reduce the size of Government? That’s actually funny. Created jobs? As compared to, what?Democratic Presidents? NO. Haven’t been great job creators. Nor, has job creators done a better job of creating jobs under GOP Presidents. Now, being mean spirited, belligerent, nasty
            and arrogant, idolizing the rich, despising, and disparaging
            the poor, disrespecting minorities, and using minorities for scapegoats, to cover their own incompetence, and the irresponsibility of members of their own base, who actually prefer illegal, undocumented labor? Yes, Yes they do that.
            And, I’m sooo brainwashed. Sooo, you tell me what Republicans have ever done for the Country. Not what they say they are going to do. Because, I think that’s bullshit. I’m
            brainwashed, remember? And, make it in the last 50 years,
            and something you agreed with.

  • Allan Richardson

    The wise opossum Pogo once declared “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” The fact is that for many years, and ESPECIALLY since the 9/11 attacks, the VOTERS of America have continued to re-elect Congressmen and Senators who promise to keep us SAFE from terrorist attacks, at the cost of our freedom, by raising racial stereotypes about spying on “those” people, as if that did not involve spying on “us.”

    If Obama had actually restricted the NSA upon taking office, AND there had been another terrorist attack as bad as 9/11, the partisan attacks would have been successful with EVEN moderate Democratic voters, and no amount of ideological or Constitutional defense of that position would have gotten him re-elected; there might have been enough condemnation to get him impeached, and get the enabling legislation (PATRIOT Act) re-enacted over his veto. And he surely found that out on taking office.

    We the voters are focusing on ONE kind of threat, and we ignore bigger ones. For example, about 45,000 Americans a year die from lack of access to health care due to being uninsured, either because no company will sell them a policy (or worse, cancels a policy while keeping the premiums already paid), or they have no way to pay the exhorbitant price. Other Americans die, or suffer unnecessarily illnesses, because of air and water pollution resulting from companies “lowering expenses” to make more profit.

    But just looking at the 45,000 deaths per year because of lack of health insurance: do the math, and it is equivalent to FIFTEEN 9/11 ATTACKS EVERY YEAR. But of course, 9/11 killed mostly people who “count” enough to work in Manhattan; the others are the “disposable others” who do not count unless they all died at the same time and place. If the voters of America cared as much about them as they do about ONE tragedy (and yes, it was a tragedy), we would have health care for everyone (without the complications of Obamacare, although that is better than nothing), and a government that does not spy on us.

    And as for the cries against the “mandate,” we have deliberately VIOLATED the Fifth Amendment by passing state laws allowing “civil forfeiture” which amounts to the confiscation of property from INNOCENT people who have not been convicted of a crime; in fact, the confiscation occurs at the moment of ARREST, and only a person with MONEY TO HIRE A GOOD LAWYER can even get his OWN PROPERTY back. That’s a lot more dollars STOLEN from Americans than the Obamacare tax. Why is the right wing not screaming about that, or about the NSA spying? Because they are OWNED by the military-security-prison-police industrial complex, that’s why. And even the President who originally wanted to oppose them has been threatened and forced to go along.

    • Sand_Cat

      WELL SAID! We obviously have violated the Fourth and the first as well, and hardly anyone seems to have noticed these days.

      Thanks for bringing up forfeiture; one of the most grotesque abuses ever, and one performed regularly by those supposedly enforcing the law.

  • charleo1

    If we discarded politicians every time one of them let his mouth override his…
    Senator Barack Obama once said increasing the debt ceiling was the terrible
    consequence of irresponsible spending, and voted aganist doing so. It’s politics.
    And why politicians fall just above, or below used care salesmen, in their well
    earned reputation for lying thru their teeth. The fact about our anti-terrorist,
    programs is, none are fool proof. And if we suffer another attack, the program
    that was cut, will be the one the opposition crew will swear by all that’s Holy,
    that was the one that was foolishly shut down. Want proof? How many embassies
    did President Obama close lat week? Think Benghazi, and politics had anything to
    do with that? Fact is, we politicize everything. An Ambassador gets killed half way
    around the world, well where was the President? God help him if he was relaxing
    with his family. And can’t prove he wasn’t watching the entire affair from a drone
    based camera. Want NSA closed? Ain’t gonna happen. Not in this lifetime.

  • clarenceswinney

    Oregon is sixteenth state calling to amend it.
    It was a dumb Supreme Court Ruling so kick it out.
    It put unlimited money into our elections.
    Another problem, much worse, is computerized control of the individual vote.
    I voted a straight D and on review it was straight R.
    In North Carolina R took over governorship plus legislature,
    I feel it was programming computers to yield that result not corporate money.
    Will R eventually take over all state voting?
    Who controls, programs the computers.
    Diebold was sold to a Republican.