Archive for the ‘2014’ Category

Early Voting Begins Wednesday, October 19th

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

12931245_1593623430963751_8337854735101877452_nEarly voting in Tennessee begins October 19, 2016 and ends Thursday, November 3, 2016. In Erwin, you can vote at the Election Commission downtown Erwin, TN.

The Unicoi County Democratic Party urges you to vote for Hillary Clinton. She is the only qualified candidate for president. She has spent her life of service working for the poor and middle class. Hillary Clinton will make an excellent president. Go to Hillary Clinton’s website to learn more about her life of service and policies to more America forward.13631554_10202035292160011_573393441831653436_n

Democratic Primary: Battle between the Left and the Main Stream

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

la-et-ct-cnn-ratings-20151014-003The Democratic primary has become a hotly contested race as Bernie Sanders gives Hillary Clinton real competition in a race between the dreamers who wants to move quickly ahead and doers who want to stay the course.

One major divide has emerged between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton between the idealistic voices in the party, with Liberals and Progressives viewing Sanders as a lightening rod for rethinking traditional politics and policies and those Traditionalists who prefer the approach of governing by pursing practical, achievable goals backing Clinton.

Sanders is getting the support from liberal Democrats while centrists Democrats prefer Clinton.

The battle lines over the party are clearly being drawn. Groups like the Nation and MoveOn want to accomplish policy goals that press for broader political reform. They are intentionally not “part of the system that backs Clinton” and often criticize Democrats who are.

“He has summoned the people to a ‘political revolution,’ arguing that the changes our country so desperately needs can only happen when we wrest our democracy from the corrupt grip of Wall Street bankers and billionaires,” the Nation’s editors wrote this week in embracing Sanders. “We believe such a revolution is not only possible but necessary—and that’s why we’re endorsing Bernie Sanders for president.”

Clinton, the magazine declared, would be limited by her traditional goals of “seeking common ground with Republicans and making deals to ‘get things done’ in Washington.”

Both candidates are aware of a divide in the party, and both candidates are taking steps not to alienate the other’s coalition. Sanders increasingly refers to polls that show him leading in potential match-ups against Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, an appeal to the Democrats who care most about keeping the White House.

Polls suggested after the caucus and primary in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Clinton and Sanders had campaigned extensively, the candidates are unlikely to change voter perceptions of Sanders as the activist and Clinton the experienced statesman.

After Sanders fought to a virtual tie in Iowa and won impressively in New Hampshire, last night, this divide could become an interesting test with minority voters.

Clinton has the backing of many influential African-American political leaders, from state representatives and mayors to major figures. This fact mirrors Clinton’s strong support among whites in the political establishment.

Are African-Americans open to rethinking their position in American politics? The status quo has resulted in blacks having disproportionately low levels of wealth and power. Sanders’ proposal for dramatic changes in U.S. economic policy mirrors how the Black Lives Matter movement is seeking to disrupt racial politics and the status quo.

Clinton currently has a huge lead among minority voters overall in the south and in South Carolina, the first primary that will have a large percentage of black voters.

Polls in South Carolina shifted dramatically in 2008, once Obama won Iowa and proved he was viable. Can the same happen with Bernie Sanders? After all, his message mirrors those of Jessie Jackson and President Obama during their runs, gaining huge black support. Or will the Clinton machine roll once it enters into the south?

Regardless, the Democratic Primary has become very exciting as enthusiastic young people flock to Sander’s message as while the party base embraces Clinton.

Home for the Holidays

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and we prepare to give thanks for all that we have, but for many Americans, home is not where they will spend the holidays. Many will spend the holiday season on the streets or in shelters.

Over 600,000 people are homeless on a given night – these people sleep in the streets or in shelters. More than 1.5 million Americans will be homeless at some point during the year. Count the people who stay with family or friends and that number of homeless people jumps dramatically.

The overwhelming majority of poor people do not sleep in the street or in shelters. Most individuals have social safety nets, other than government [safety net] programs, in the form of family, friends and community. When bad things happen, many of us can turn to loved ones for support. For the majority falling from housing into homelessness, 72 percent lived with family or friends before ending up in the shelters or the streets. Homelessness is happens when a person’s safety net disappears.

The outlook for future progress in the war on homelessness is promising. More so than with poverty, local governments, private charities and churches can play a vital and effective role in assisting the homeless. New service models are being tested in different cities and regions of the country so we can figure out what works and what doesn’t. More programs are emphasizing data and performance-based measures of success. Creative new programs are springing up. For example, Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness (ARCH), a nonprofit in Johnson City, Tennessee, continues to help find affordable houses for the chronically homeless with disabilities, many of which are veterans. Housing is paired with meaningful opportunities to connect with community and work.

An important aspect of providing help for the homeless is funding. Some funding is accomplished through government dollars and this is determined by grants to regional areas based on data on homeless numbers. In January, each year, the point in time (PIT) survey is conducted all across America. It occurs on one night, as a directive of HUD and a snapshot of homelessness on a single night. In Northeast Tennessee, ARCH will perform the PIT on January 22, 2015. Volunteers are needed to perform this survey by counting the homeless in Northeast Tennessee. Call ARCH at (423) 928-ARCH (2724).

The future on the battle against homelessness is promising, but we must not lose sight of the real suffering faced by real people – even if they are made invisible by poverty statistics. Our main focus and overarching goal must not only be to put roofs over heads, but to address the complex issues facing some of the worst off among us. The war on poverty will not be won until we also win the war on homelessness. Until then, Home for the Holidays will mean life in the streets for many Americans.

Fear not! The 1800’s weren’t all that bad!

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

1800saNashville – State Rep. Steve Womick has filed the first abortion-related bill on Thursday, November 13th to take advantage of the passing of Amendment 1. Under the new bill – The woman will be forced to have an ultrasound one to three days before a procedure. She will also be forced to listen to the heartbeat.

Womick says his concern is to “fully inform the mother of what she is doing”. He says his bill will protect the “emotional and mental health of women across the state of Tennessee”. So it takes a Republican man to tell Tennessee women what they are doing? The GOP war on women continues and more bills restricting women’s rights will continue when the Tennessee legislation convenes in January.

It is interesting to note that in 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that abortion was protected in the Tennessee Constitution as part of a woman’s fundamental right to privacy. Welcome to the new Dark Ages in Tennessee.

2015 ObamaCare Open Enrollment begins Nov. 15, 2014

Monday, November 10th, 2014

obamacare_400_360_3602015 open enrollment for Obamacare begins this Saturday, November 15, 2015. For coverage starting in 2015, the Open Enrollment Period is November 15, 2014–February 15, 2015. Visit healthcare.gov and get affordable health insurance for yourself and your family.

Step 1 to stay covered through the Marketplace: Review your current health coverage

If you already have health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, it’s time to review your plan and decide if you want to make changes for 2015. You can choose to stay in your current plan (if it’s still offered) or change to a different plan.

Insurance companies can change a plan’s premiums, cost-sharing, and the benefits and services they cover each year. Every fall, your health insurance company sends you a notice explaining these changes. It’s important to review your plan’s 2015 health coverage to make sure it still meets your needs.

Here are a things to remember as you review your plan:

•You will receive a letter in the mail this month about your health plan policy describing your plan changes.
•Read the letter, and contact your health plan if you have questions.
•Write down important dates and information from the letter, like enrollment deadlines and your 14-digit plan ID.
•HealthCare.gov now has 2015 health insurance plans and prices available for preview, so you can see what other plans are available to you and compare to the coverage your current plan will offer.

Reviewing your current health coverage is just the first step. Learn how to take the rest of the 5 steps to staying covered starting November 15.

During open enrollment in 2014, the 7 million target was exceeded on the last day of open enrollment with over 8 million Americans signing up from health insurance.

Seven million was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office for enrollment in taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance through new online markets created under President Obama’s signature legislation.

Republicans in congress remain committed to repealing ObamaCare. The congress has voted [unsuccessfully] over fifty=four times to appeal Obamacare. Many newly elected Republicans in the November 2014 Elections promise to continue voting and wasting taxpayer money in futile efforts to appeal Obamacare.

The 4 Amendments: What do They Mean?

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 1 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article I, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

This is the amendment that would strip our state constitution of its own privacy rights independent of the federal constitution. It would also open the door to legislative forays into a woman’s private healthcare decisions. Whatever you think about abortion, you have to question the wisdom of this amendment. RECOMMENDATION: Vote NO.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the first and second sentences and by substituting instead the following:

“Judges of the Supreme Court or any intermediate appellate court shall be appointed for a full term or to fill a vacancy by and at the discretion of the governor; shall be confirmed by the Legislature; and thereafter, shall be elected in a retention election by the qualified voters of the state. Confirmation by default occurs if the Legislature fails to reject an appointee within sixty calendar days of either the date of appointment, if made during the annual legislative session, or the convening date of the next annual legislative session, if made out of session. The Legislature is authorized to prescribe such provisions as may be necessary to carry out Sections two and three of this article.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

This amendment would retain Tennessee’s longstanding practice of having the governor appoint members of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal as opposed to having these judges campaign for their seats in partisan statewide elections. Amendment 2 also continues the current practice of giving voters the chance to retain or retire these judges every 8 years. States such as West Virginia that have switched over to statewide elections for appellate judges have discovered that an influx of large cash contributions into judicial campaigns can corrupt the judicial process. (See Caperton v. Massey Coal) RECOMMENDATION: Vote YES

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentence at the end of the final substantive paragraph within the section:

“Notwithstanding the authority to tax privileges or any other authority set forth in this Constitution, the Legislature shall not levy, authorize or otherwise permit any state or local tax upon payroll or earned personal income or any state or local tax measured by payroll or earned personal income; however, nothing contained herein shall be construed as prohibiting any tax in effect on January 1, 2011, or adjustment of the rate of such tax.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

This amendment would prohibit our legislature from ever considering a state income tax regardless of the circumstances. So, if the legislature ever wished to replace its sales tax with a more progressive income tax, it could not. Again, whatever you think about tax policy, one must question the wisdom of tying a future legislature’s hands in this fashion. RECOMMENDATION: Vote NO

Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 4 for the November 4, 2014 General Election Ballot

Shall Article XI, Section 5 of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the following language:

“All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) organization located in this state, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code or as may be amended from time to time.”

and by substituting instead the following language:

“All other forms of lottery not authorized herein are expressly prohibited unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members elected to each house of the general assembly for an annual event operated for the benefit of a 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(19) organization, as defined by the 2000 United States Tax Code, located in this state.”

***Because there is valid concern that the legal language of these amendments may confuse voters, we have asked Baptist minister, constitutional lawyer and renowned author Oliver ‘Buzz’ Thomas to provide his interpretation in laymen’s terms, along with a vote recommendation, he says:

Tennessee has an exception to its anti-gambling laws for the state lottery and charities that convince the legislature to grant them an exemption – such as the one for the Boys and Girls Club Annual Duck Race fundraiser. This amendment would extend that possibility to veterans’ organizations. RECOMMENDATION: Vote YES

Rob Martin for Tennessee House of Representatives – District 4

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Rob Martin, Democratic Candidate for Tennessee House of Representatives – District 4, continues to work hard for votes. Rob has been canvasing door to door in Carter County and meeting Democratic voters. Rob was unopposed in the Democratic primary. John Holsclaw, Jr. defeated Judy Veeneman in the Republican primary. Check out Rob Martin at his website martinstatehouse.com

Rob was born in the Midwest and raised with his three siblings by his working mom and dad, he learned early the value of hard work, teamwork, and perseverance. Rob’s math abilities gained him a scholarship and he attended the highest ranked academic high school in the United States. His continued academic prowess and leadership abilities earned him a scholarship to an Ivy League school where he earned a Philosophy degree. Rob was a housing rights activist for many years and cemented basic housing rights for renters in New York City that have withstood the test of time for over 20 years. In the early 90’s Rob moved to Silicon Valley and worked for software start-ups. After a successful career Rob moved to Carter County near Roan Mountain to teach and give back to those in need.

Rob earned a Masters in Computer and Information Technology while teaching at The University School & ETSU in Johnson City. Rob has been an Adjunct professor in Computer Science at E.T.S.U. & University of San Francisco, and a featured lecturer on advanced computing technology at University of Texas at Austin & University of Denver . Rob worked with the dean of mathematics crafting the technical curriculum at the J.D. Edwards Honors Program in Computer Science and Management at University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

​For the past 5 years Rob has made Erwin his home and has been Director of IT and Software Engineering at Conrad Industries just across the border in N.C. where he directs IT for 3 factories and 6 direct sales organizations in the US, Mexico, and China.

Tennessee Decends into the Dark Ages

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

dark pathThe fight for reproduction freedom rages on in several states this election but the Tennessee wing-nut legislation has made this state center stage for the battle.

Tennesseans were asked and voted to amend the state constitution to provide that:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother”.

That’s right folks. Tennessee is trying to amend its constitution to never protect abortion, ever, under any circumstance (rape, incest or death to mother). How did Tennessee descend into such backward thinking logic?

It was not that long ago [2000] that the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in a case that “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of… the Tennessee Constitution’. The case was Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist and the ruling of the court was that the Tennessee constitution affords even more protection than the U.S. Constitution to Tennesseans seeking abortions.

The court also determined that Tennessee could only pass very narrow restrictions on abortion as a result. Republicans in the state legislature immediately reacted by attempting to amend the state constitution. Those proposed amendments failed to pass the state legislature but now they are on the November ballot.

Don’t be deceived that protections exist in the legislation by veiled references to rape, incest and the life of the mother in the language of the proposed amendment. The second sentence is deceptive and craftily written to leave the incorrect impression that exemptions are either in place, or could easily be put in place. The proposed wording in fact allows the state to regulate all those interests out of existence.

Do Tennessee women really need to be protected from their own decision-making by the state legislation? The restrictions and regulations that Amendment 1 would enable Tennessee legislators to pass would be appalling.

Amendment 1 is a misleading piece of legislation and designed to be exactly that in an effort to deceive voters into voting for poorly written legislation. Recent polling conducted by Vanderbilt University in May found that 71 percent of state voters oppose amending the constitution to place abortion rules solely in the hands of the legislature.

It appears that people who support Amendment 1 will have their rigid beliefs and restrictions imposed on everyone else. They want the draconian legislators to decide – the same legislation that has repeatedly proven to be biased on the issue. People should not forget that the last time fundamentalists imposed their rule on everyone else – they called it the dark ages.

DREAMers:

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

There are an estimated 11 million dreamers in the United States. After a lifetime of fearing deportation, being banned from working legally and fighting to stay in the country they grew up in, thousands and thousands of young, undocumented immigrants continue to fight for a national Dream Act.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, S. 1291 by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch.

[This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning, they would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, they may qualify for permanent residency if they have “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States” or have “served in the armed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge”. Military enlistment contracts require an eight-year commitment, with active duty commitments typically between four and six years, but as low as two years. However, the military does not allow undocumented immigrants to enlist, and those that have enlisted have done so under a false identity, or used fraudulent documents. “Any alien whose permanent resident status is terminated… shall return to the immigration status the alien had immediately prior to receiving conditional permanent resident status under this Act.” This bill would have included undocumented aliens as old as 35 years of age. As of November 2013, 15 states have their own versions of the DREAM Act, which deal with tuition prices and financial aid for state universities. These states are Texas, California, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon. The Maryland DREAM Act was approved by state-wide ballot, winning 59% of the vote on November 6, 2012.]

Supporters argue that the Dream Act would not create an “amnesty program” and would produce a variety of social and economic benefits, while critics contend that it would reward illegal immigration and encourage more of it, inviting fraud and shielding gang members from deportation.

The war has waged on for years over Dreamers and immigration Reform. On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed a memo calling for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and have pursued education or military service here. Applications under the program which is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) begin on August 15, 2012. Two years ago the Obama Administration gave permits to thousands of young illegal immigrants.

o-DREAMER-FILM-facebookImmigrants who were younger than 31 and were brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthdays were eligible for the permits, which will allow them to stay and work here legally for two years. Although 1.76 million people were eligible for the permits — There was an estimated total of 11 million dreamers.

To receive the deferred action permit, immigrants had to either be currently enrolled in school or have a high school diploma or GED. Honorably discharged veterans were also eligible to apply for the permits. Felons and people with more than three misdemeanors were not eligible for a permit.
Since the permits were granted in 2012, the fight for Immigration Reform, the Dream Act and other variations of immigration have waged on. The Majority of Americans, even a majority of Republicans support Immigration Reform.

But obstructionists [the Republican “Teabagger” controlled congress] led by house speaker John Boehner have refused to bring Immigration Reform to a vote, even though it would easily pass with a majority of congress. Boehner refuses to bring the bill to a vote because a majority of his wing-nut majority will not support the reform — under any condition — and he wants to remain speaker of the house.

The influx of immigrant children from South America briefly heated up the debate over immigration reform. The initial outcry erupted by anti-immigrant forces but recently pro-immigrant forces have took a stand — with counter protests –on behalf of the children caught in the middle of the immigration battle.

It appears obvious that the Republican logic is Morally Bankrupt and Politically Senseless: Use the humanitarian crisis as an excuse to target young undocumented residents, and use them as political scapegoats to rile up conservatives — while fixing absolutely nothing.

The Partisan Divide: A Race for Control

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

This is a very important election and a great deal in on the line. Will America move forward or will we continue to decline under austerity and a do nothing strategy by the Republican Party? Control for the Senate is at stake.

These contests might lack the drama of a presidential election — and there are plenty of signs of voter suppression and apathy in this cycle — and several major issues that will erode individual rights are on the ballet.

The core question of this election remains unanswered: Is it a wave? All indications of unexpected close races are Republicans are poised to gain because the set of battleground states just happens to favor them as a result of Gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics? The Washington Post reported that voter suppression laws worked well in Tennessee.

The devil is in the details and the question remains, whether Republicans can win in blue states or presidential battleground states, like Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina. If Republicans fare well, the rights of Americans will continue to erode. Will Republican governors win competitive contests in states like Florida and Michigan? If not, even with a Republican takeover in the Senate, indications for 2016 may be good news for Democrats.

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