Archive for the ‘ Congress ’ Category

Why a Medical Examiner Called Eric Garner’s Death a ‘Homicide’


New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner on July 17 when he grabbed him by the neck and, with other officers, threw him to the ground and pinned him there. But did he commit homicide? And if so, was it a crime?

Everyone from Charles Barkley to Judge Andrew Napolitano has weighed in with an opinion on the matter. The resulting confusion has the potential to take the hard, painful question of equal justice in America and make it harder and more painful.

The key to clearing up the confusion is to understand the difference between two uses of the word “homicide” and to focus not on the medical cause of Garner’s death but on Pantaleo’s behavior.

On Aug. 1, a New York City medical examiner determined that the cause of death in the Garner case was “homicide,” specifically the neck compressions from the Pantaleo’s chokehold and…

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U.S. Congress Salaries…

Rank-and-File Members:
The current salary (2011) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.

  • Members are free to turn down pay increase and some choose to do so.
  • In a complex system of calculations, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, congressional pay rates also affect the salaries for federal judges and other senior government executives.
  • During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. Other Founding Fathers, however, decided otherwise.
  • From 1789 to 1855, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6.00 while in session, except for a period from December 1815 to March 1817, when they received $1,500 a year. Members began receiving an annual salary in 1855, when they were paid $3,000 per year.

Congress: Leadership Members’ Salary (2011)
Leaders of the House and Senate are paid a higher salary than rank-and-file members.

Senate Leadership
Majority Party Leader – $193,400
Minority Party Leader – $193,400

House Leadership
Speaker of the House – $223,500
Majority Leader – $193,400
Minority Leader – $193,400

A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes to not accept it.

Benefits Paid to Members of Congress

You may have read that Members of Congress do not pay into Social Security. Well, that’s a myth.

Prior to 1984, neither Members of Congress nor any other federal civil service employee paid Social Security taxes. Of course, they were also not eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Members of Congress and other federal employees were instead covered by a separate pension plan called the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress. Because the CSRS was not designed to coordinate with Social Security, Congress directed the development of a new retirement plan for federal workers. The result was the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986.

Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. They become vested after five years of full participation.

Members elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System(FERS). Those elected prior to 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System(CSRS). In 1984 all members were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching to FERS.

As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.

The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.

According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

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OpEdNews – Article: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest.




Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been stripped of legal immunity for acts of torture against US citizens authorized while he was in office.   The 7th Circuit made the ruling in the case of two American contractors who were tortured by the US military in Iraq after uncovering a smuggling ring within an Iraqi security company.  The company was under contract to the Department of Defense.   The company was assisting Iraqi insurgent groups in the “mass acquisition” of American weapons. 


Cheney, the simple-minded sadist is next!  Bush won’t leave his cul-de-sac unless he has fifty henchmen surrounding him.  I love it when the bad guys get theirs!

OpEdNews – Article: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest..

US government shutdown looms again –

The US government has been put at risk of a possible October 1 shutdown because of a partisan fight on Capitol Hill over disaster relief for victims of hurricane Irene and Democratic opposition to proposed cuts to subsidies for fuel-efficient cars.

via US government shutdown looms again –

Social Security and the Federal Debt: Why You Should Be Worried – CBS

But the fact of the matter is, I am worried, and I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Richtman. Somebody has to pay back the interest and principal on these government bonds, and who will that be? You guessed it — that’s us, through our taxes. Another way to express the value of the Social Security trust fund is that it’s invested in $2.5 trillion of future tax collections. Now I don’t feel so secure.


Social Security should divest itself from U.S Treasury Bond investments… but how can it be done with some measure of  reducing the risk?

via Social Security and the Federal Debt: Why You Should Be Worried – CBS

When They Came for Me

When the Nazis came for the Communists, I remained silent; I was not a Communist.

When they locked up the Social Democrats, I remained silent; I was not a Social Democrat.

When they came for the Trade Unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a Trade Unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I was not a Jew.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a Protestant pastor and social activist.

I want to bring your attention to this passage as written by Martin Niemöller for reasons that will become obvious to you as time goes forward in this period of social and economic evolution within the United States, as well as the global arena. The author is summarizing the events that led to Nazi Germany’s ability to unite an entire country under a common belief, a philosophy that was froth with inconsistencies.  Everyone should have, to some degree, a working knowledge of that era, so I won’t go into details.

Let’s change the names to protect the innocent… so to speak, and see how these writings fit present day America:

When the Right came for the Senior citizens, I remained silent; I was not a Senior citizen.

When they locked up the Social Democrats, I remained silent; I was not a Social Democrat.

When they came for the Trade Unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a Trade Unionist.

When they came for the Lower Classes, I remained silent; I wasn’t in the Lower Classes.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

It has been said that America was as close to being a dictatorship under the Bush Administration as ever before – The Patriot Act set the stage for what we see today – in a broader sense; .  I have enclosed a copy of the summary of what the PATRIOT Act does… USA PATRIOT Act.

“The Act dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.” 

Before someone goes off on a tangent, I am sighting the Patriot Act here to put emphasis on the discreet way in which laws are passed which can enhances the capability to do other things that are even more bizarre in nature – the Patriot Act has its validity in the grand scheme of protecting America, but there were other entities encompassed in the Patriot Act that were in place before the Patriot Act was passed that did the same job.  So why did we need a ‘new’ law to do what was already a law?

The Military Commission Act of 2006 as originally signed by President Bush took aim at the rights of an accused as granted under the Habeas Corpus Act… you simply have to be declared a ‘domestic terrorist’ and you lose your right to representation, time you can be held without charges, and the right to an attorney – furthermore, your trial, if you are granted one will, be at the discretion of the entity that had you arrested and detained.

The Military Commission Act was revised in 2009 to appease its critics, but the controversy remains as to whether a U.S citizen can be tried under this Act.  Consider that the Combatant Status Review Tribunal decides whether you will be tried as an ‘alien’ or U. S. citizen – the new changes, that to some degree set guidelines for the Combatant Status Review Tribunal were requested by President Obama.  Based upon the new determination, you have a three step process that must include ‘substantial’ evidence to classify you as a hostile or unlawful enemy combatant.   You will have the right to Habeas Corpus and a trial by your ‘peers’, or a military tribunal if you do not qualify or meet all three of the steps of determination!

The text of the law states that its “purpose” is to “establish procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses triable by military commission.” While the most controversial provisions in the law refer to “alien unlawful enemy combatants”, section 948a refers to “unlawful enemy combatants” (not explicitly excluding US citizens).

What I am saying is this:

Changes are being made to the laws in many States and at the Federal Congressional level by the 2010 wave of Republicans that were ushered into our State and Federal Congresses with a mandate the Right foolishly believes is validated by the 2010 election results, this may be so, but surely no one envisioned what is currently taking place.  No one envisioned that ‘entitlements’ were going to be cut, degraded; no one believed that our Unions were going to be pushed to the curb like new fallen snow with hopes that they would melt and fade away in the Spring; no one believed that laws that have been on the books… having passed challenge after challenge are now being changed – precedence is a mainstay of Judicial law, and yet, we see clearly that these changes are being made.  No one believed that controversial laws, having been struck down by the courts, would be enacted in spite of the rulings by our courts!

No citizen is standing to voice concern… we are silent – until it is our turn to be subjected to the new order!  Therein lays the dilemma… the crack in the wall that will release a flood of laws systematically taking away your rights – all under the pretense of prosecuting terrorist.

In a democracy, silence is not golden; it is condonance in the face of injustices; it is fear, where the thought of reprisal fosters control – Rodney A. Davis

Michele Bachmann: Let’s repeal clean air and clean water for our children | ThinkProgress

By Joe Romm on Jun 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Last night at the GOP debate in New Hampshire, Michele Bachmann R-MN said of the Environmental Protection Agency:What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it’s the repeal bill that will get a job killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.

It may not be a big surprise that a tea party extremist like Bachmann wants to undo the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, exposing our children to countless toxic pollutants.

What is a little more surprising is that the video shows the other presidential contenders start nodding in agreement with this radical attack on public health… More


Where is the sanity in repealing the EPA, an agency that is responsible for safe-guarding the water we drink and the air we breathe?