Letter to the editor: The Senate must take action

August 7, 2014

senate usBy GARY KIRKLAND

Americans like me need the Senate to take up the cause on three matters of great importance.

First, the Senate must not allow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to enforce the ObamaCare Individual Mandate. The law is bad enough already, but IRS enforcement is unacceptable. News reporters and congressional committees caught IRS agents red-handed targeting conservative groups. Laws should not allow this agency to enforce my healthcare decisions.

Second, the Senate must pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act (S. 2685), introduced by Senator Leahy and supported by Senators Lee and Cruz. Under the Fourth Amendment, the government must obtain a warrant to search Americans. The National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies are not above the law.

Third, the Ex-Im Bank is up for reauthorization in September. The Bank gives taxpayer-backed loans to some of the most profitable corporations in the world. Government bureaucrats need to stop picking winners and losers. The Senate needs to shut down Ex-Im Bank. Do not re-authorize it.

Millions of Americans share my views on these important matters. It is not enough to sit by and do nothing. The Senate must take action to address these three major issues as soon as they come back from August Recess.


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24 Comments

  1. Dirk Anderson says:

    The only issue here that I believe, I’m at least somewhat informed about is perhaps the second: USA Freedom Act and surveillance.

    Although obviously aware of network surveillance, this issue is not resonating with the American People. Perhaps because armed with the latest greatest tech toys a substantial segment of the population does not appear to know how to mind their own business either, literally: Ortega y Gassets “Revolt of the Masses”.

    The other contributing factor is this surveillance issue is technically just so darn complex and huge. Typical IT guy is not going to understand it all, how could anyone expect this endless succession of simple minded cell phone yackers (all over you) and texters to fully understand their own stupidity (and public rudeness) etc.

    Further more, secrecy veils the extent of Government and Corporate collusion. So much so the two entities can at times be indistinguishable. Former NSA chief Keith Alexander’s transition from public service to the private sector perhaps helps illustrate: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/05/keith-alexander-cybersecurity_n_5652497.html

    Basically, the business model of the Internet etc. is: “surveillance”, period. Therefor with the kinds of profits to be made…welcome to the Panoptican Surveillance State Shell Game.

    In my efforts over the past year or so, to attempt to educate myself and voice my opinion, the only Politician that responded back was Lois Capps (on this issue she gets it). For educational purposes I sent her a couple of emails using the TOR network. These things tend to draw attention to oneself, but does Lois Capps have a PGP public encryption key? I would practice with her any day. Of course, if the NSA et al wanted your private key bad enough they would grab it online. Although as you may have noticed “I’m” fully transparent, yet I have a pretty nice decline to state bag of tricks myself, two can play these games. American culture such as it is, I might need it.

    Besides the technical, the aspect that typically gets neglected is the potential application and analysis of massive amounts of data. It has been said by credible sources that the NSA et al does have profiles on all Americans. And if the NSA facility in Utah does not work out, use the one being built on Ft Meade, and so it goes.

    Hopefully, by now Dianne Feinstein ( she did respond back) fully appreciates the scope of this surveillance issue and the corrupting, corrosive effect it has on Society, but I doubt it.

    (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  2. achillesheal says:

    Gary. It’s time to face the tough reality that senators and representatives in Washington care about the following things and only the following things,

    Re-election
    Amassing power and wealth for themselves
    Quid pro quo with political donors
    Their party gaining majority for more of step 2
    Self over party, party over country

    The American people and what is good for the country are nowhere on their list of prioritiies.

    Rinse, repeat.

    Think back.about whether a senate hearing has ever amounted to anything, besides roger Clemens being indicted. It’s all a show to provide theater.

    (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
    • r0y says:

      What is often a “fun” exercise is to think back to Nixon. Oh, everyone will tell you how bad he was and he resigned… over what, again? Then see what is happening DAILY with everyone from the president on down. Kind of makes Nixon’s failings seem pretty minimal.

      Yet he still had the character to resign. Go figure.

      (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  3. bobfromsanluis says:

    Jeepers, the IRS “scandal” has been blown way out of proportion, and the end result is that NOT ONE conservative group lost their tax exempt status. The IRS rules are that in order for a non-profit group to be able to take donations and keep their donors anonymous is that those non-profit groups are NOT allowed to engage in political activity, period. Far more “Tea Party” labeled groups were investigated because they either had the term “political” in their actual group name, or it was part of their mission statement that they were engaging in political action with that money that had been donated, and they were trying to keep their donors anonymous in violation of the rules the IRS had long ago established.
    Yes, there were some “liberal groups” that were also investigated, but unlike the Tea Party and conservative organizations, some of the liberal groups were actually denied tax-exempt status. Again, NONE of Tea Party or conservative groups had their tax exempt status revoked, even though they were in direct violation of the rules and laws.

    This is a big stink about a whole lot of nothing, period.

    As for the IRS enforcing the ACA individual mandate, this is the same plan that the Republicans first proposed, and the individual mandate was a feature, not a bug; if everyone were required to participate, the costs will eventually even out and long term start to go down. But as soon as President Obama embraced the idea, all the sudden it is a “government take over” of healthcare, which is so far from reality it isn’t really funny, just sad that so many have been duped by propaganda by the right, again.

    (-8) 36 Total Votes - 14 up - 22 down
    • SLOthinker says:

      When Nixon tried to use the IRS to harass political opponents, his IRS commissioner refused. He was forced out of office when the House drew up articles of impeachment. One of them was that he abused his office by TRYING to use the IRS to target opponents.

      Republicans in the Senate went to Nixon and said if he stayed, they would convict and remove him. He resigned.

      This is how serious even an attempt to use the IRS for political purposes is.

      Where are the Democrat leaders on this? They should be calling for a full investigation, not throwing up smoke screens.

      (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
    • panflash says:

      Bobfromsanluis says “… NONE of Tea Party or conservative groups had their tax exempt status revoked…”

      Well,now, that’s not quite the point here, is it Bob? As quoted in my Aug. 7 post below, “… a November 2010 version of the IRS’s BOLO list indicates that liberal and conservative groups were in fact treated differently because liberal groups could be approved for tax-exempt status by line agents, while tea party groups could not.”

      So, much of the concern about the IRS behavior was not necessarily regarding revocation of tax exempt status, but their discriminatory approach to analyzing and acting on pending applications- an important distinction apparently overlooked by bobfromsanluis.

      As further pointed out in my Aug. 7 post, Article 2 of the Nixon impeachment charges was for “alleged misuse of the IRS… to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

      And, again that Aug. 7 post indicated that public and media reaction was strong:

      MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said “There is a reasonable fear by all of us, by any of us, that the kind of power the IRS has could be misused,” she further said that this scrutiny of Tea Party groups was “not fair.”

      ABC News’ Terry Moran wrote that this was: “A truly Nixonian abuse of power by the Obama administration,”.

      NBC’s White House correspondent Chuck Todd: “It didn’t seem like they had a sense of urgency about it, a real sense of outrage,” and further; “This is outrageous no matter what political party you are.”

      MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said: “This is tyranny,” and talked of “unspeakable” abuses by the IRS. “This time it’s real.”

      So, for several media commentators, this IRS scandal was “tyranny”, “A truly Nixonian abuse of power by the Obama administration,” and “… outrageous no matter what political party you are.”

      But for our bobfromsanluis, “This is a big stink about a whole lot of nothing, period.”

      On many occasions bobfromsanluis weighs in here with pertinent and enlightening observations. It’s disappointing to see this message from him.

      Folks, on such matters, how about we try to refrain from stark, rigid partisan declarations and focus more on what’s best for our nation rather than what’s best for our favorite politicians and government officials? Our Constitution is a frail and vulnerable guide to our future, and any abuses of it should be taken seriously.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
  4. Slowerfaster says:

    RE: the IRS …Please explain how the word “exclusive” is synonymous with “primarily”. That’s what the tax code says…that these supposed tax-exempt organizations claiming social welfare status have to be engaging ‘exclusively’ in that activity in order to get the exemption.

    BTW, this has nothing, NOTHING to do with the Affordable Care Act ( Obamacare ). That is a right-wing conflation.
    If you don’t like affordable health insurance, then don’t accept it. Turn down your Medicare, Medicaid, Medical… then let your multi-billion dollar insurance corporation make the decisions when youare sick; which will be to deny care. You might not suffer for long, but maybe you can ease your pain by reading “Atlas Shrugged” another time and still not understanding it.

    (-4) 24 Total Votes - 10 up - 14 down
    • whatisup says:

      I do believe we need to be able to provide healthcare for all citizens in the U.S., not just those with no pre-existing conditions. However, it does appear the IRS did act illegally. As the evidence keeps trickling out, it does look worse and worse for Lois Lerner and company. I will say that the democrats in Congress have successfully muddied the waters about the truth until after the Nov. election and this issue will have little affect on the election. Much like Nixon successfully did with Watergate.

      (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  5. J4flat_tire says:

    Voting on issues is what Congress is supposed to do. A 10% approval rating for Congress didn’t happen by accident. They are not being allowed to vote, so nothing gets accomplished. And for this you only need to look directly at one person who goes by the name Harry Reid.

    (10) 30 Total Votes - 20 up - 10 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      Baloney !

      The hostage-taking, do-nothing House of Representatives voting 54 times to repeal Obamacare is NOT legislation.
      The Teabagger led Republican caucus votes interminable times on this junk and stunt…going nowhere garbage so that that they can conveniently ignore responsible and needed measures… to give the IMPRESSION that they are doing something, and to continue to collect their undeserved paychecks.

      It’s 7% approval rating, and that’s on the high side for these bums….and they’re all Republican bums !

      (-3) 29 Total Votes - 13 up - 16 down
      • whatisup says:

        I think J4flat-tire’s point is that the House of Representatives did vote 54 times to repeal Obamacare, which is House Legislation, and when the House sent this legislation to the Senate for a vote, Harry Reid, as Senate Leader, refused to allow a vote. While clearly this is legislation the Democrats are against, in this instance it is the Democratic Senate blocking a vote on legislation to repeal Obamacare.

        The truth is both sides are obstructionist to the other sides ideas. The House is not going to approve Democratic ideas and the Senate is not going to approve Republican ideas. Yet, each side blames the other in the rhetoric battle.

        (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
  6. Rambunctious says:

    “The Senate must take action to address these three major issues”

    Don’t hold you’re breath…If it’s good for America but it doesn’t make the GOP look bad Reid won’t bring it up for a vote. Making the Republicans look evil and incompetent is page one in the democrats playbook… all else comes second. That hateful single minded goal is what screwed up Obama care in the first place. Turning it’s enforcement over to the IRS was a middle finger to us all. We won so you all can come along but you need to sit in the back of the bus I think were Obama’s words as He, Reid, and Pelosi shoved O-Care down our throats. I think his chickens are going to come home to roost this November.

    (9) 43 Total Votes - 26 up - 17 down
  7. mkaney says:

    Mr. Kirkland it appears that the local Libertarians are not properly educated on classical economics and have simply been assimilated as a safety net by the Republican party along with the Tea Party. You and Gail Lightfoot would gain a lot more credibility by avoiding any support for Tea Party and Republican politicians and basing your arguments on the sound philosophical principles of the Mises/Rockwell crowd. The Libertarian party has unfortunately become exactly what the left warns of and doesn’t know how to mitigate corporate hegemony in the context of minimal regulation.

    (-3) 29 Total Votes - 13 up - 16 down
  8. kettle says:

    “Millions of Americans share my views ”

    Considering there is 313M Americans, 3 Million Americans would be less than 1%, so no.

    Also Ted Cruz is part of the “shutdown the goverment” crew and has 0 credibility as he is part of the problem, not part of a soluition.

    Shame on the do nothing Senate and Congress still trying to shut down health care for free Americans, all the wile collecting donations from health care corporations.

    (-7) 65 Total Votes - 29 up - 36 down
    • euroamerican says:

      Kettle, yes we are FREE Americans, and therefore should be able to choose our own health care without interference by our Government. A FREE senior citizen should not be paying $200 a month added to their health care policy for Pediatric Dental Care.

      (15) 39 Total Votes - 27 up - 12 down
  9. catdude says:

    You left something out, Gary: The IRS did not “target” conservative groups exclusively, it also investigated liberal groups…forgot about that part, huh? And, by the way, The Koch bros. organization pouring money into political ads is a “Public Welfare” group? HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa…. wanna buy a bridge?

    (0) 62 Total Votes - 31 up - 31 down
    • NorCoMod says:

      Got your point about what he left out, point taken.
      Interesting though that you didn’t disagree with what he said.

      (-2) 20 Total Votes - 9 up - 11 down
      • MajorityFan says:

        It seems obvious that catdude did not buy into Kirkland’s load of uninformed nonsense.

        (3) 25 Total Votes - 14 up - 11 down
    • shelworth says:

      show us just one.

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
    • panflash says:

      Well, now, for the moment let’s set aside catdude’s amateurish attempt to mislead the readers and how about let’s look at the facts. A quick check of that IRS political scandal on Wikipedia reveals that:

      “Initial reports described the selections as nearly exclusively of conservative groups with terms such as “Tea Party” in their names. Further investigation by media outlets appeared to confirm this, revealing that some liberal-leaning groups and the Occupy movement had also triggered additional scrutiny, but not at nearly the same rate as conservative groups.”

      So, yeah, catdude, the IRS apparently threw in a handful of liberal groups as well, “… but not at nearly the same rate as conservative groups.”

      Also, from the same source:

      “Over the two years between April 2010 and April 2012, the IRS essentially placed on hold the processing of applications for 501(c)(4) tax-exemption status received from organizations with “Tea Party”, “patriots”, or “9/12” in their names. While apparently none of these organizations’ applications were denied during this period, only 4 were approved. During the same general period, the agency approved applications from several dozen presumably liberal-leaning organizations whose names included terms such as “progressive”, “progress”, “liberal”, or “equality”.

      And, again from the same source:

      “The conservative National Review states that a November 2010 version of the IRS’s BOLO list indicates that liberal and conservative groups were in fact treated differently because liberal groups could be approved for tax-exempt status by line agents, while tea party groups could not.”

      And more:

      “Press reaction to the scandal was intense.

      MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said: “There is a reasonable fear by all of us, by any of us, that the kind of power the IRS has could be misused,” she further said that this scrutiny of Tea Party groups was “not fair.”

      Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart stated that the scandal had taken “the last arrow in your pro-governance quiver,” he further said that this threw doubt on President Obama’s “managerial competence” and had proven correct “conspiracy theorists,” moving the burden of proof onto federal authorities.

      ABC News’ Terry Moran wrote that this was: “A truly Nixonian abuse of power by the Obama administration,”.
      NBC’s Tom Brokaw stated: “It’s time for action,”.

      NBC’s White House correspondent Chuck Todd: “It didn’t seem like they had a sense of urgency about it, a real sense of outrage,” and further; “This is outrageous no matter what political party you are.”

      MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said: “This is tyranny,” and talked of “unspeakable” abuses by the IRS. “This time it’s real.”

      By the way, speaking of the IRS, this month we are observing the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon, in the face of formal impeachment charges. Among the articles of impeachment was Article 2- his alleged misuse of the IRS- which charged that Nixon “endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

      Hope this gives a broader perspective to the subject than catdude’s partisan viewpoint. Seems like he was the one who left something out.

      (14) 28 Total Votes - 21 up - 7 down
    • Citizen says:

      Catdude, you’re just repeating an old talking point. Although some left wing groups were examined, they were either approved or disapproved by the IRS (I think that 2 were disapproved) in a short time. The conservative groups examined were neither approved or disapproved. They were kept hanging until the election was over and many are still unapproved. These groups were in the hundreds and IRS officials kept asking for more irrelevant information and indeed some were investigated by IRS and other government agencies. That’s the difference and why the old talking point of both liberal and conservative groups were targeted has been discredited. Please, keep up with what has been discovered before using a discredited talking point.

      (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      Republicans think that Republicans and associated ‘conservative’ groups that include the ‘sovereign citizen’ radicals are above, beyond, and immune from the law.

      We ( at least a few ) know the difference: They are enemies of the state, enemies of democracy and mutual self-government, enemies of civilization, and enemies of humanity.

      Just wait now for the anguished cries of the victimhood martyrs that say I am being unfair.
      Those cowards are the ones that allow the crazies and fascists to HAVE a platform and voice in their coalition, and for broader public acceptance among the ignorant masses.. They welcome these society killers to their table. They’re content with their fellow travelers being homicidal maniacs.
      …And they are so self-deluded that they think that their arrogance, hubris, and conceit will protect them from any harm from these monsters.

      (-8) 16 Total Votes - 4 up - 12 down

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