I got to watch a fair amount of CSPAN last week as I recovered from a flu. One of the more interesting moments came late in the week, after most of the work for the week was through and members could use their time to talk about anything they wanted.
Rep. Grayson, a lawyer and a former phone company president, decided to spend about a half an hour talking about PRISM, phone records, metadata, and government spying on US citizens. It’s a pretty good overview of the known programs, and he offers up some good points of further inquiry.
WASHINGTON, June 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation to put strict limits on sweeping powers used by the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation to secretly track telephone calls by millions of innocent Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
“We must give our intelligence and law enforcement agencies all of the tools that they need to combat terrorism but we must do so in a way that protects our freedom and respects the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches,” Sanders said.
Lots of people seem to be upset with various aspects of American life, from education and healthcare to the economy and domestic surveillance. Mostly we gripe about it and that’s it. But there’s one simple thing we can all do that will actually help (more than doing nothing) and that is to write to your congressmen about it. It may be true that no one is addressing your concerns, but you’ll have a better argument if you’ve at least told people about it. More importantly, there are starting to be problems where it’s a bit like “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Or maybe, “now or never.”
Many people suspected it, but now it is known for certain. The US government is spying on Americans, collecting vast amounts of electronic information to sort and store, and has been doing so for the last seven years.
have the stories, and more reports are said to be on the way.
Edward Snowden was working at a high level for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and was able to see how the various spying systems scoop up emails, phone records, locations, durations, chats, and almost anything you do online. This information is combined with other available information to create profiles of each of us. Snowden has documentation to prove it, and shared it with Greenwald.
Washington, DC. (June 6th, 2013)- After recent reports that the government has been seizing millions of telephone records of US citizens from service providers, Rep. Welch made the following remarks:
“I cannot fathom a reason for the federal government to cast such a wide and indiscriminate net in the name of national security. This confirms the worst fears of those of us who oppose the Patriot Act.
WASHINGTON, June 6 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today criticized a secret domestic surveillance program that swept up millions of telephone records on calls by Americans who were not suspected of any wrongdoing.
A court order demanding the records be turned over was obtained under a controversial interpretation of a provision in the so-called Patriot Act, which Sanders voted against when it was first enacted in 2001 and when it was reauthorized in 2006 and 2011.
“As one of the few members of Congress who consistently voted against the Patriot Act, I expressed concern at the time of passage that it gave the government far too much power to spy on innocent United State citizens and provided for very little oversight or disclosure. Unfortunately, what I said turned out to be exactly true.
WASHINGTON, June 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today congratulated the Senate Judiciary Committee for drafting an immigration reform bill that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the United States and help their children become citizens.
He also supported provisions in the measure that would strengthen border enforcement, prevent unscrupulous employers from hiring illegal workers and give legal status to foreign workers needed to keep Vermont’s dairy farms and apple orchards in business.
Sanders, however, expressed strong concern that large American corporations in the midst of very high unemployment were using immigration reform to lower wages and benefits for American workers.
Here’s a headline from today’s New York Times:
“China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraqi Oil Boom”.
So the USA topples Saddam and China gets the oil. Pat yourself on the back if you saw that coming in 2003.
I think back to the run up to this war when officials from the Bush administration were spreading manure (synonym for a pithier word) about the war not costing America anything because the oil would pay for it. I think one man went so far as to say (when told that some in Washington were suggesting that the war would cost at least $22 billion) that that was reckless and irresponsible, treasonous, even. That at most the war would cost $2 billion and was more likely to see a profit.
It was 2016, and I had been moved into a nursing home. My deaf room-mate had Alzheimer’s, and he insisted on watching TV whenever he was awake, which seemed like always. His favorite show was Fox News, so it was easy for me to keep on top of things in the “real” world.
As I mentioned, it was 2016, and the presidential campaigns were in full swing. The Dems had nominated Hilary Clinton, and in a surprise move, offered the VP slot to a newly minted Democrat, Chris Christie, Gov. of New Jersey. The Repubs chose Jeb Bush, and in a strategy to capture the Hispanic vote, selected Sen.Ted Cruz of Texas (dubbed the “Cruz Missile” by Geraldo Rivera).
BURLIGTON, Vt., May 31 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Senate Budget Committee member and founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, issued the following statement after Social Security trustees today released their annual report on the retirement system’s finances:
“The report from the Social Security trustees confirms what many of us have known, that Social Security is not ‘going broke,’ that it can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years and that after 2033 there is enough in reserve to pay three-quarters of future benefits.
BURLINGTON, Vt., May 26 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement today in honor of Memorial Day:
“Memorial Day must not simply be a day for picnics and ballgames. It is a time to remember and cherish the lives of service members who have died in defense of this nation and appreciate the unimaginable loss their families have experienced. But Memorial Day is not just a time to reflect upon the past. It’s important that we also focus on the present and dedicate ourselves to do all that we can to protect the interests of today’s veterans – many of whom came home from war wounded in body and in spirit.
The Nuclear Plant in Paducha, Kentucky is set to shut down at the end of May (less than a week).
WASHINGTON, May 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would let Vermont and other states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing ingredients that have been genetically modified.
“All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids and this is certainly true for genetically engineered foods,” Sanders said. “I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child.”
WASHINGTON, May 21 – With gasoline prices rising rapidly, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to make U.S. federal regulators follow the lead of Europeans and investigate oil and fuel price manipulation.
Sanders also proposed a 30-day deadline for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use its emergency powers to curb excessive speculation in crude oil markets.
“We must do everything that we can to make sure that oil and gasoline prices are transparent and free from fraud, manipulation, abuse and excessive speculation,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate energy committee.
BURLINGTON, Vt., May 17– U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will welcome Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen of Denmark to Vermont for a series of town meetings this weekend.
Lessons the United States can learn from Denmark will be explored at town meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier.
WASHINGTON, May 16 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today applauded Pope Francis for condemning a “cult of money” in the world that he said was oppressing the poor.
In a major speech at the Vatican on Thursday, Francis said the global financial system has worsened poverty while benefiting the wealthy few. “While the income of the minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority of the majority is crumbling,” Francis said.
WASHINGTON, May 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today issued the following statement on a Congressional Budget Office report that the federal deficit is expected to total $642 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30:
“It is very good news for our country that we are making progress on deficit reduction. President Obama inherited a $1.4 trillion deficit when President Bush left office more than four years ago. This year, the deficit is on track to be cut by more than half from what it was in January of 2009.”
Minnesota has just passed a law legalizing gay marriage! We now have 12 states plus the District of Columbia -that are embracing marriage equality for all of it’s citizens. It has taken a long time to get this much momentum but now it feels like a wave of hopefulness that can not be stopped. Slow and steady progress. Nevada may be next!
This may seem a strange time to bring this up as there is no election looming, but for better or worse now is when it is hitting me.
Our New England neighbor, New Hampshire has an all woman congressional delegation – Senators Shaheen and Ayotte and Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster, plus Governor Maggie Hassan. Vermont has never its whole history put a woman in one of those seats.
BURLINGTON, Vt., April 21 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Senate environment and energy committees and the sponsor of legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, issued the following statement on Monday’s observation of Earth Day:
“Unless we take bold action to reverse climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: ‘Where were they? Why didn’t the United States of America lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come?’