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Member since: Thu Jul 8, 2004, 02:14 PM
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Of the 433 members of Congress listed on Roll Call, only 143 of them were even in Congress when the

Patriot Act was passed. So, 75% of Congress weren't even in the know to begin with. Of the 25% who were, only a handful were picked to be in the know, as in, selected as important enough to know. The few others who kinda know a little bit maybe are members who were not first-hand parties to the goings-on, but rather those who just received a few briefings here and there.

Now, looking over the list of just 143 members who might have a chance of knowing something, I am looking for names that stick out, since I don't have the info about who was actually in those meetings at hand. I see quite a few names I just don't really recognize, for whatever reason, and I see a few names that I just barely kinda have heard of. Here are some names in particular that might know something about NSA spying:

Mike Rogers, R, Michigan
Darrell Issa, R, California
Eric Cantor, R, Virginia
Paul D. Ryan,R, Wisconsin

A fair mix of Democrats and Republicans are on the list of 143. But then I look at their seniority dates...Even with heavy-hitting names such as those I just listed, it's really not possible that they knew much, is it? All of them were fairly new to Washington, I'm not sure they would be considered insider enough to have been briefed? I mean with the exception of Ryan, all were elected in 2001, and Ryan in 99, so it's not exactly like they would have been power players at that time, and I distinctly remember that only a few could be in the know, and those few were supposed to kind of brief others on a need-to-know basis.

Further perusing the list, in order to narrow it down to just those with 5 years experience in Congress, I have to narrow the list to just 87 people that could have possibly maybe been briefed. Elijah Cummings was elected in 96, so he had 5 years in on 9/11. Do you supposed he was senior enough at that time to get a full briefing?

More names: Peter King, R, New York. Spencer Bacchus, R, Ala. Inquiring minds want to know how all this spying could be going on and yet no one knows anything, but a quick look at the actual facts reveals that attrition alone accounts for much of the lack of knowledge. What do you guys think, am I thinking right on this?

*On edit: I realize the NSA spying didn't necessarily coincide with 9/11, and developed out of what was to come. I just did this exercise on first the general Patriot Act as passed in 2001 to kinda look at who might have known what.

Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized "17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants ... native grasses and sunflowers," after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including "grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises," Smith's statement said. She said the police didn't produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn't be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested -- for outstanding traffic violations.

The city of Arlington said in a statement that the code citations were issued to the farm following complaints by neighbors, who were "concerned that the conditions" at the farm "interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties and are detrimental to property values and community appearance." The police SWAT raid came after "the Arlington Police Department received a number of complaints that the same property owner was cultivating marijuana plants on the premises," the city's statement said. "No cultivated marijuana plants were located on the premises," the statement acknowledged.
more at link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/texas-swat-team-conducts-_n_3764951.html

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about free trade. It's a corporate coup d'etat--against us!

(Long read, by Jim Hightower. Well worth the read. I've clipped just four paragraphs


Drug prices. Big Pharma would be given more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents and be empowered to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs. Besides artificially keeping everyone's prices high, this would be a death sentence to many people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases in impoverished lands. The deal would also restrict the rights of our government to negotiate with drug giants to get lower consumer prices with bulk purchases, as Medicare and Medicaid do in the US.

Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits: The deal explicitly prohibits transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down super-rich speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world; it restricts "firewall" reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking (thus prohibiting Congress from reinstating the much needed Glass-Steagall firewall in our country); it could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank-deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street's 2007 crash; and it provides a backdoor escape from national rules that would limit the size of "too-big-to-fail" behemoths. These extreme provisions would be enforceable by the banks themselves--TPP empowers them to force governments either to repeal reform laws or to compensate banks with taxpayer money for "losses" they say are caused by reforms.

Internet freedom. Thanks to public rebellion, corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the internet failed in Congress last year to pass their repressive "Stop Online Piracy Act." However, they've slipped SOPA's most pernicious provisions into TPP. Corporate-created content, for example, would be given copyright protection for a stunning 120 years! The deal would also transform internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our "user activity," arbitrarily take down our content, and cut off our access to the internet. To top that off, consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for non-commercial, small-scale copying--like sending your mom a recipe you got off of a paid site.

Public services. TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation, and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One especially insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry pick the profitable customers and sink the public service. Also, corporations from any TPP nation must be allowed to bid on contracts to provide public services in the US on the same terms as American corporations.

Somewhere, in the ether, J. Edgar Hoover is smiling coyly, and looking through yet one more

index card file, scheming...(and wishing he had lived long enough to have spearheaded it all).

That is all.

Obama Administration Releases Previously Secret Legal Opinion on NSA's Associational Tracking Progra

The Administration released a White Paper on Friday that summarized its claimed legal basis for the bulk collection of telephony metadata, also known as the Associational Tracking Program under section 215 of the Patriot Act, codified as 50 U.S.C. section 1861. While we’ll certainly be saying more about this analysis in the future, the paper makes one central point clear:

There is no direct authorization for the Associational Tracking Program in section Patriot Act section 215.

Nowhere does the statute say that the NSA may conduct bulk collection and analysis of the phone records of nonsuspect, nontargeted Americans on an ongoing basis, including requiring the production of records that haven’t even been produced yet.

It could, of course. Congress could have said that bulk collection is allowed and a properly drafted statute would also define “bulk” collection in a way that everyone can understand and isn't full of word games. That statute would not have been constitutional (since the program isn't constitutional), but would at least say what the the Administration wishes section 215 did.
More at link: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/10-0

Guitar Center Union Campaign Notches Second Store Victory

Giving a boost to a budding organizing campaign, workers at a Guitar Center store in Chicago voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Friday, likely adding another unionized store for the music retailer under Bain Capital ownership.

The vote at Chicago's flagship store follows one successful union bid and two failed ones in New York City, where the Manhattan store recently became the music retailer's first union shop. According to the union, more than three quarters of the Chicago workers who cast ballots Friday voted in favor of the union, but the federal labor board hasn't officially ratified the results yet.

The union has said it intends to take its campaign to Guitar Centers throughout the country, and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday that the Chicago vote shows the campaign has staying power.

"his vote in Chicago proves that retail workers are ready and willing to stand up and demand change," Appelbaum said. "Retail workers at Guitar Center nationwide are reaching out to the union because they understand that when they unite and stand together, their voices will be heard."


(much more at link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/12/guitar-center-union-chicago_n_3743664.html?utm_hp_ref=business

Your mortgage documents are fake!

Source: Salon

Prepare to be outraged. Newly obtained filings from this Florida woman's lawsuit uncover horrifying scheme (Update)

If you know about foreclosure fraud, the mass fabrication of mortgage documents in state courts by banks attempting to foreclose on homeowners, you may have one nagging question: Why did banks have to resort to this illegal scheme? Was it just cheaper to mock up the documents than to provide the real ones? Did banks figure they simply had enough power over regulators, politicians and the courts to get away with it? (They were probably right about that one.)

A newly unsealed lawsuit, which banks settled in 2012 for $95 million, actually offers a different reason, providing a key answer to one of the persistent riddles of the financial crisis and its aftermath. The lawsuit states that banks resorted to fake documents because they could not legally establish true ownership of the loans when trying to foreclose.

This reality, which banks did not contest but instead settled out of court, means that tens of millions of mortgages in America still lack a legitimate chain of ownership, with implications far into the future. And if Congress, supported by the Obama administration, goes back to the same housing finance system, with the same corrupt private entities who broke the nation’s private property system back in business packaging mortgages, then shame on all of us.

The 2011 lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in both North and South Carolina, by a white-collar fraud specialist named Lynn Szymoniak, on behalf of the federal government, 17 states and three cities. Twenty-eight banks, mortgage servicers and document processing companies are named in the lawsuit, including mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/12/your_mortgage_documents_are_fake/

much more at link. comment: Is anyone surprised? I'm not. (on edit: cleaned up the title, added subtitle to excerpt)

Here is how I know I'm at the right place:

Last year, after many years of laying low locally, I decided to resume being active in local politics. I went online to try to find out about when and where our local party meets. It had been many years, and the Union hall was sold years ago to a private group so they could use it as a school (go figure, they did that with some school buildings as well). Anyhoo, after finding out the pertinent info, I noticed they had a website listed: www.democraticunderground.com! Does your local do that?

Donald Trump: Sen. Ted Cruz ‘Perhaps Not’ Eligible for White House ‘If’ Born in Canada

Source: ABC News

During an interview for “This Week,” real estate mogul Donald Trump questioned whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would be eligible for the White House given his Canadian birth.

“If he was born in Canada, perhaps not.” Trump told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

“I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada. That’s really his thing,” he said.

Trump also defended his previous accusation that President Obama may not actually have been born in the United States — a conspiracy theory that has been proven false — when asked about the issue by Karl.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/08/donald-trump-sen-ted-cruz-perhaps-not-eligible-for-white-house-if-born-in-canada/

One more short paragraph, video at link. Trump's going all birther on Cruz.

Jennifer Hoelzer, Former Wyden Aide, Unleashes On Obama Administration Secrecy

Source: Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- A former top aide to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) fired back at the Obama administration this weekend, challenging the president's assertion Friday that he welcomed a debate on privacy and national security and that Congress had been fully briefed.

Jennifer Hoelzer was a longtime aide to Wyden until recently, and vented her frustration in a way she couldn't as his communications director or deputy chief of staff. Hoelzer wrote on TechDirt that she was stunned to see President Obama claim he wanted such a conversation after she had worked for years to beg and plead with the administration to declassify material so that an actual debate could take place.

Really, Mr. President? Do you really expect me to believe that you give a damn about open debate and the democratic process? Because it seems to me if your Administration was really committed those things, your Administration wouldn't have blocked every effort to have an open debate on these issues each time the laws that your Administration claims authorizes these programs came up for reauthorization, which -- correct me if I am wrong -- is when the democratic process recommends as the ideal time for these debates.

For example, in June 2009, six months before Congress would have to vote to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the Obama Administration claims gives the NSA the authority to collect records on basically every American citizen -- whether they have ever or will ever come in contact with a terrorist -- Senators Wyden, Feingold and Durbin sent Attorney General Eric Holder a classified letter "requesting the declassification of information which argued was critical for a productive debate on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act."

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/11/jennifer-hoelzer-obama-nsa_n_3739639.html

more at link
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