Threat Assessment for Homeland Security: the calls are coming from inside the house

Panelists for "The Threat Assessment" at the Texas Tribune 2022 in Austin Texas
Panelists for “The Threat Assessment” at the Texas Tribune 2022 in Austin Texas. The Threat Assessment: Is our homeland secure?” Moderator (l): Robert Chesney, James Baker Chair and Dean of the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin. Speakers (l-r): Asha Rangappa, Senior Lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and Legal and National Security Analyst; Frank Figliuzzi, National Security Expert and Former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI; Juliette Kayyem, Faculty Chair of Homeland Security and Security and Global Health Projects at Harvard University.

Note: Robert “Bobby” Chesney moderated the discussion.

Note: This content is derived from live notes taken during the panel discussion; some text is therefore paraphrased. I take responsibility for any misunderstanding or misstatement.  

Note: “agencies” is presumed to be the various U.S. security agencies. The “Agency” is presumed to mean “the FBI.”

Note: caption content is taken directly from bios for speakers posted to the Texas Tribune Festival 2022 website.

Final note: I asked Juliette Kayyem and Frank Figliuzzi what it was like for them, on a personal level, to be committed to the rule of law and find themselves with the Lawbreaker-in-Chief at the head of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.  Kayyem said that it was necessary to “put him out of my mind, get him out of my head” and focus on the work that needed to be done. Figliuzzi, speaking more to the continuing threat against democracy and the rule of law, said that the time he spends discussing the current threats and actions taken to enforce the rule of law inspires him to continue to work for justice.

Panel Discussion

Bobby Chesney: Let’s talk about domestic terrorism. After 9/11, the country focused on international and perhaps domestic terror was perceived as performed by outside enemy actors. Since January 6, how have national security perceptions changed and how has public perception changed about domestic terror?

Asha Rangappa: [There is a tendency for] the agencies to be reactive, and not proactive, slow to react and can suffer from blind spots. [The perception of violent actions done by one or two actors] after Jan 6 should not be seen as the actions of a lone wolf. We thought we knew what terrorism looks like. We now see that it can look like us!

Frank Figliuzzi: Bureaucracies move slowly; we did not see ourselves as the threat [and we saw the threat as others who did not look like us]. [Because of our perceptions about the source of homeland security threats], the “A Players” [for national security] were not in the domestic terror area of the agency. When terror became aligned with the Guy in the Oval Office [and with our prior] policy and funding decisions, this affected [the outcomes that] we got. We are playing catch up now, after the Jan 6 events.

Juliette Kayyem: [The malign influence flows from] the internet and social media. There are no lone wolves. They feed off each other. They meet online, [plan online, radicalize online]. Understanding and identifying that as a crime is difficult. They have a community of hate that is not being regulated. This community aligns with the Theory of Displacement [discussed on Fox by] Tucker Carson. In the year 2016, the U.S. Census noted [and I want to phrase this carefully] that American-born babies that were not White outnumbered American-born White babies. [These numbers do not include immigration statistics]. This took hold as a concern in various white nationalist groups; it animated them. And Trump catered to this, wanted it. Trump used messaging [that encouraged] stochastic terror, such as “Free Michigan”. What does that mean? It is just one example of Trump nurturing terror. And now [messages of violence] are being directed by Trump. Why does the media use a language of doubt about this messaging? Trump is not “flirting with QAnon” — Trump is right in there with [QAnon conspiracy symbols and ideas].

Bobby Chesney: Are you seeing more of a willingness to play outside the lines that are heading towards violence. This presents a problem: how does a free society that allows free association and freedom of speech, etc., respond [with regards to surveillance and regulation]? Also, it seems apparent that domestic terror is now interwoven with one of our political parties.

Asha Rangappa: A domestic terror ideology has been mainstreamed into a political party. Political activity [is becoming difficult to separate] from the terrorist ideology. This is a huge problem for law enforcement. FBI and politics do not go well together! And this [terrorist ideology] is represented in Congress by elected figures who are excusing violence. We have been seeing this increase during the last five years. [Law enforcement is said to be] “politically biased” and to be targeting individuals, based on their politics, when it is really their violations of the law. (Rangappa gave examples outside of the U.S. that she has seen in her work in the FBI, where in Columbia, narcoterrorism groups (see wiki for more on narcoterrorism ) tried to become part of the political establishment and were not accepted. But other violent groups were allowed into the political system, after renouncing their ideology of violence.)

Bobby Chesney: I have a question: Does terrorism really map onto one political party or is this more of a spectrum ranging from authoritarianism to terrorism. [Is this too broad a brush?]

Frank Figliuzzi: It’s hard not to do that, because if you do not come out against what is going on, you are in effect condoning it. [You condone the violence/terror] if you go on a network and you are asked to condemn an act [of violence/terror], and you [waffle] or walk your statements back the next day in social media. Freedom of association, speech, etc., are part of our American values. We do not want to be [surveilled] in public or on the internet [or on social media]. But how else can law enforcement “get to the right of Boom?” (i.e., how to stop a terror act before the violence occurs). In the past, we have been successful [stopping terror acts] by designating terror groups. The authorities do categorize outside terror groups, but we have no procedures in place to designate domestic terror groups inside America. The danger is that if you do that, it could later lead to designations such as “Antifa is a terror group!” — so be careful with this direction of thought.

Juliette Kayyem: When leaders are silent [about acts of terror], the terror groups feed off their silence. The Charlottesville [march] was a change because they had their hoods off. Is this because they thought there would be no consequences? Trump “both sides” [events like Charlotteville]. And Trump will not deny being involved in a cult. The followers hear the message that it is okay to consider violence to be an extension of politics. “Stop the Steal” is an example of how the line [gets crossed]. [Extremist groups] get oxygen from a political infrastructure that refuses to acknowledge that this is their cancer. But I have seen signs of change for good and I will discuss that later.

Bobby Chesney: Based on extremist groups’ tendencies towards violence, should we consider making changes in our statutes to limit speech?

Frank Figliuzzi: Well…social media platforms are not rising to the occasion. If they do not change quickly, the government should step in [to regulate]. What “social media companies” provide is neither social nor media. They operate more like our regulated utilities. It’s not “journalism” — and [content] defaults to basic instinct and a desire for affirmation. [For an example of a service that is regulated], the government regulates air carriers: for veracity; for policing itself to be secure and stable. [Another example would be] the ratings provided for films. We need something like that [for social media platforms], but Congress seems unwilling to go there.

Asha Rangappa: Social media [has equivalencies with] Big Tobacco. Their bottom line is incompatible with the public good. They make money from fostering groups that create radicalization: it’s their business model. Expecting them to self-change is unrealistic. Sue the hell out of them, as we did Big Tobacco companies, for the deceptive practices practiced against the consumers of social media. Another example [in government]: people who facilitate an insurrection should be removed from office. If they walk free and unaccountable, then [insurrection] works as a political strategy. Hit them where it hurts.

Juliette Kayyem at Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas
Juliette Kayyem at Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas. Juliette Kayyem is the faculty chair of the Homeland Security and Security and Global Health Projects at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She also serves as a national security analyst for CNN. Previously, she served as President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. She spoke on a panel, “The Threat Assessment,” at the Texas Tribune 2022 in Austin Texas.

Bobby Chesney: But (as noted), if there is a regulatory mechanism, if you create an authority, they can use this power in unexpected/unintended ways. In fact, Trump has pressured for users to be allowed to force Twitter [to go against their current terms of service (TOS)].

Juliette Kayyem: I do not think [Legislature regulation] will happen. What other options could be used? I believe that Alex Jones is the sleeper case on this. [The lawsuits are] framed: Alex Jones monetization of horrific behavior [and harassment of the victims]. The libel cases are focused on Alex Jones’ behavior that took place [almost entirely] on social platforms. This will cost Jones a lot and (others on social media will take note of the outcome of the lawsuits). Social media is on trial with Alex Jones. The market does speak. Twitter’s de-platforming of Trump did more for deradicalization than many other actions. Twitter [essentially] decapitated a terror leader – this is meant as an analogy! But Twitter users wanted Trump off the platform.

Frank Figliuzzi: What happens when a platform refuses to do that? The analogies of airline and tobacco regulations apply. Facebook has 20-30K employees who work in security. FBI and Facebook work very closely together. But what about platforms that don’t have security staff in place? Remember that Big Tobacco came down in a large part because of whistleblowers. It could be the same for Twitter and Facebook — major lawsuits could follow [whistleblower testimony against social media platforms].

Bobby Chesney: How does this fit into a political group that is moving towards authoritarianism or towards a disrespect for the rule of law?

Juliette Kayyem: I am solely focused on violence as an extension of politics. The debate is: if the violence is removed, does the rest [of the extremism] go away? If you could excise violent MAGA and Trump, what would be the outcome? I believe it would be harder to sustain [without violent MAGA and Trump], but the problem is bigger than [the acts of violence].

Frank Figliuzzi: How do you disentangle the two? Politicians are using terms like “cultural warfare” and “battle”. [Look at Trump’s] last two rallies: the music, the arm raising, the religious tone with phrases like “battle for the soul” and “a war against Christianity”. This ends up as a domestic terror threat. The suggestion is that the government should be destroyed and rebuilt.

Asha Rangappa: We are seeing a domestic application of “active measures” [Russian covert destabilizing methods, see George Marshall European Center for Security Studies. Create chaos and pit groups against each other in preparation for a military act or simply to weaken the system. We see this taking place in other countries; for example, in India (see Russia and South Asia/India.) The techniques used with “active measures” work because they damage a society’s social trust. (Rangappa suggests “Bowling Alone,” a book by Robert Putnam, about the decline in social trust in America. Why does social trust matter? The loss of social trust degrades our participation in a functioning system [to pay taxes, be cooperative, interact with the greater society]. Lower social trust can assist demagogues to come into power. A despot does not care that you love him—just that you do not love each other. This is how authoritarians take control. How can we increase trust in an environment that is emersed in social media? Violence is a symptom of low social trust taken to an extreme.

Asha Rangappa at The Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas
Asha Rangappa at The Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas. Asha Rangappa is a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a CNN contributor. Previously, she served as a special agent in the New York Division of the FBI, specializing in counterintelligence investigations. Rangappa has published op-eds in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and others. Rangappa spoke on “The Threat Assessment” panel at The Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas.

Bobby Chesney: What steps can be taken to be ready to deal with the future, to approach the 2024 election?

Frank Figliuzzi: You should look at the Mueller report. Two dozen Russians were indicted by the special council for their online operation, where agents interfered using social media [to distribute] propaganda. A quarter million Americans were following Russian social media accounts. This type of activity is far from over. [Enemy states] continue to spend millions on this type of activity—and it is not just Russia. It’s China, Iran, North Korea. The battle for the American Mind is quite real. The domestic threat cannot be separated from the foreign vector: it is hard to tell the difference and to locate the source of the threat.  But when a social media account [is paying for ads] with rubles, maybe [social media platforms taking those rubles should respond with concern.

Juliette Kayyem: [Our future includes] a Putin “scorched earth’ Putin threat of nukes. And we have some dysfunction with our government systems. They need support to keep elections safe and secure…but this is assuming Secretaries of State will not try to overrule voters. A delay [in vote count results] can create the vacuum where [doubt can be introduced] about whether the votes were counted honestly. Delays affect trust. [And in fact, there are risks.] For example, Putin only needs to suppress or change about 25K votes to change the results in a state like Michigan. Putin’s agents could hack a part of Michigan with a high percentage of one party of voters in a way that causes terror. If you can suppress 25K Democrats in a targeted area, you can win the state. But there are hopeful signs: the metrics suggest that ethical politicians, both Democrats and GOP, still have agency. Note the declining size of the [right-wing extremist] rallies. Notice that there is a degradation of the militia groups. Are right-wing movements growing or dissipating? (Kayyem thinks it is not increasing. In discussion after the event, she agreed that the DOJ’s actions to charge top-level players in militia groups involved in Jan 6 have had a powerful effect on dissipating the power of militias.)

Asha Rangappa: I agree with Frank. The spectrum of domestic/foreign is [tough to parse]. But if we can locate foreign agency, then our toolbox is much stronger to combat the threat. We have specific frameworks for what is war or if someone is being targeted. We need to be able to see this more clearly [and take actions against messaging threats]. For example, Biden recently put out factual statements, pre-bunking false narratives that Russia was planning to use against Ukraine. This made it harder for the propaganda to work on the pubic. Pre-bunking is early messaging to combat expected false narratives. Another example of this was to clearly message to the public that, due to an increase in mail-in voting during the pandemic, it would take a long time to count all the votes. Counter messages can defeat propaganda.

Frank Figliuzzi at the Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas
Frank Figliuzzi and Yours Truly (yes, I am a fan). I blurted out that he was my favorite nerd and (I think) he took that as the compliment that it was meant to be. Frank Figliuzzi is a National Security Expert and is a Former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI, where he served for 25 years as a special agent. He is a regular columnist and contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. Figliuzzi also served as assistant chief security officer for General Electric. He is the author of “The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence.” Figliuzzi spoke on the panel, “The Threat Assessment,” at the Texas Tribune Festival 2022 in Austin Texas.

Audience questions for the panelists:

Question 1. A UT Austin student asked about how agencies protect against the risk of foreign investments, such as Saudi purchases, of our businesses and U.S. property.

Frank Figliuzzi: We have CFIUS (The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States). The Counterintelligence unit studies mergers with foreign agencies to assess what could negatively affect our national security.

Asha Rangappa: Private companies need to realize that they are national security actors. In fact, we all need to see our online actions as a potential threat to national security. Public-private partnerships need to fully understand the role they play; they can be targets for foreign governments.

Question 2. Before August 8, I was concerned about materials going to the Mar-a-Lago Club. The risk seems to be downplayed [by some]. Is the FBI overly concerned about the missing docs? Don’t regular people get investigated for stuff like this?

Frank Figliuzzi: Yes, we investigate people for this! The Agency oversees acts of potential espionage. Are there missing docs from folders that are marked as holding classified documents? Are they mixed into the materials obtained during the search or are there other missing items? We need to go forward to this right now.

Juliette Kayyem: Some polls show divisions in the public as to whether it was legally allowable for Trump to possess the docs. This situation affects [our relationship of trust with] our allies, for example, with the French president. The government’s message about the concern for these unsecured documents should be, “We are focused on your security.”

Question 3: The audience member said he has spoken about cyber security to small business owners who did not recognize the problem of being hacked. How do we ensure that everyone buys into the need for protection from hackers?

Juliette Kayyem: What the public needs to understand is that agencies are trying to stay “to the right of boom”. We cannot control all the external variables, but we must minimize harm.

Asha Rangappa: We should work to create a more resilient population and [more robust] systems. A well-designed system would minimize the harms caused by apathetic actors (Example: unvaccinated and unmasked population)

Frank Figliuzzi: To encourage investment in computer security, you must counter the attitude of “We don’t have anything anyone wants.” There are two types of people: those who have been hacked and those who just have not noticed that they have been hacked. A simple example of potential security harm: a bakery with a recipe for something that brings revenue for the baker. If the recipe is stolen and a competitor obtains it, that is bad for business. Also, a hacker can take down your business. And consider this scenario: the FBI shows up at your bakery and says, “You are a HOP point in your town from your bakery’s location.” (A “hop point” is a point of entry for hackers to invade multiple machines on a common network, creating the risk of damage for all users in the system.)  Everyone should take an interest in cyber security.

Question 4: A Facebook user, who follows the FBI Facebook page, said that when she reads the comments after the FBI posts [about people charged in relation to Jan 6 insurrection], they ask “Well, what about Antifa, why doesn’t the FBI arrest them?”

Frank Figliuzzi: There is violence by the political left. All lawbreakers and terror acts are wrong. But it is a false equivalency to compare protesters responding to excessive police force to a [violent, armed] attempt to take down the U.S. Capital on Jan 6.

Learn More:

  • “The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence” by Frank Figliuzzi. Available in hardback, Kindle, and with Audible, which is narrated by Figliuzzi.
  • “The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters” by Juliette Kayyem. Available in hardback, Kindle, and with Audible, which is narrated by Kayyem.
  • Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck: The National Security Podcast

South by Southwest Trade Show 2016

The South by Southwest Trade Show 2016 brought a variety of tech services together with demos, short presentations, and lots of freebies.

SxSW Knowbility Expo 01

Knowbility at Expo today #SXSW2016

SxSW 2016 poster Rick Linklater dream is destiny

Rick Linklater, poster boy, for the movie Dream is Destiny  #SXSW2016

SxSW 2016 Gaming Poster 02

South by Southwest Interactive Gamers event is March 17-19, 2016. #sxswi #sxsw2016

SxSW 2016 Crypton CEO Hiroyoki Itoh & poster

Happy to see Crypton CEO Hiroyuki Itoh, creator of Hatsune Miku, virtual singer. Miku comes 2 Dallas 2016. #SXSW2016

SxSW 2016 VR demo expo

Let’s dance. Virtually, of course. VR demo #SXSW2016 Expo

SxSW 2016 Nasa VR demo

NASA VR demo #SXSW2016

SxSW 2016 Mascot expo hall

Not a furry, thank goodness. Mascot at #SXSW2016 expo hall.

SxSW 2016 NASA selfie ops

NASA selfie #SXSW2016 southby expo open today

SxSW 2016

Tradeshow #SXSW2016 robots, apps, future tools.

SxSW 2016 Del HealthHive

Dell Healthive #UTatSXSW #SXSWi2016 #SXSW2016 hookem

SxSW 2016 Transfor health w art demo

Transform health using art in clinics & hospitals #SXSW2016 #SXSWi2016

SxSW Am inventors patents

American inventors and patents. Find more online. #SXSW2016

SxSW Inventors need protection 02

Inventors need support, protection #SXSW2016

SxSW 2016 DOT Austin transport upgrades 01

DOT has chosen Austin for some transportation connection upgrades.

SxSW UT Health demo booth

Discover UT Health @uthealth_sbmi #SXSW2016 #SXSWi2016 no mascot but lots of heart.

SxSW 2016 Grindr demo

Grindr showed up to the trade show, bringing some fun.

SxSW 2016

Texas Advanced Computing Center UT Austin at Expo. Hookem!!

SxSW 2016

AI Samurai

SxSW 2016

NoMaps the #SXSW2016 for Japan supporting bands, films, & startup.

Cruzin’ off the rails with Ted Cruz

Tribfest 2014 Ted Cruz panel reaches for water

Ted Cruz under fire at the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival. Lots of suits here but the boo’s, so far, at earlier events, were from conservatives. Cruz goes one-on-one with Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz.

Tribfest 2014 Ted Cruz panel racist comment

Ted Cruz chooses racism at the Texas Tribune Festival when he calls undocumented workers and their families “illegals” and suggests that undocumented children be denied education. Cruz is interviewed by Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz.

Ted Cruz is confident and does not lose his poise as he throws darts at Obama, at healthcare, at “illegals”, and he is happy to compare himself favorably with Ronald Reagan. If you have the time to time travel to a the Way Back Days, before Ted Cruz ditched his constituents for Cancun and callowly blamed the trip on his teenage kids, when Cruz was an integral part of the Tea Party obstructionist, here’s the entire interview. Interesting how obsessed Cruz is in the Keystone Pipeline. His claims that the McConnell and GOP obstructionist threats to cause a government shutdown was the fault of Democrat insistence on passing bills to fund social programs. GOP would destroy the federal government to increase their power on the state level and it sounds like the old Slave states and their Lost Cause whining. Southerners complain that the Civil War was the fault of the North because when the South seceded from the Union, Northern soldiers beat the South rebels back, deep into their own land.

Even in 2014, the Tea Party was in a war with establishment Republican politicians. If you weren’t paying attention in 2014, then 2016 probably took you by surprise.

Heidi quoted by Cruz, from the Tribune interview: “Goodness gracious, I never realized you were such a rotten guy.” And this is before Ted humiliated Heidi by groveling to Donald Trump after his wife was coarsely insulted during the 2016 presidential election competition.

Left of center: is there a Texas political “center” and how’s it doing?

Tribfest 2014 panel Kay Bailey event crowdshot

Can the Center Hold?

To be (in the center) or not to be? Thus is the question today discussed with Evan Smith (Tribfest) with those listed above. Quotable quotes:

The system is dominated by money.

We don’t have any idea where we are headed. Republicans are talking nonsensical garbage.

Hutchinson – redistributing and gerrymandering. The primary system. If we are going to have the current primary system as it is in Texas, you have to appeal to a narrow section of the voters, the ones who vote in the primaries. Voters should turn out and vote in the primaries instead of waiting for the main election. She compared the Texas system to the system in Louisiana, where primaries are open to all voters, regardless of political party affiliation.

Various quotes and ideas to think about

Because of social media, you now hear every insult cast by opposing candidates. Everything that used to happen behind the curtain is now out in the open. This gives more strength to [those looking for all the facts). But when the conflict plays out in public, the more anger you “perform” in public, the more likely you are to win. (Update: this was the beginning of the great polarization between parties, fed by social media bubbles.)

But the bottom line is that you must vote. If you care, vote.

Tribfest 2014 panel pol to the right

Bill Bradley  Jon M. Huntsman Jr.  Kay Bailey Hutchison  Ron Kirk 
Kasim Reed  Evan Smith (mod.)

Things are bad. Hilary Clinton: “The subheading for the US Constitution ought to be ‘Let’s Make a Deal.'” It used to be that you could make a deal and agree upon a decision, so that progress could be made. Compromise is not a four-letter word. Without the ability to compromise, America is in danger of not being considered an effective country in the eyes of others in the world.

Now, there are no more battles: there are wars. An example is the passage of the debt ceiling and congressional authority. In the past, these types of things did not blow up as they do now. Conflict is escalated.

This might be caused by the constant money chase. Reelection is always on the minds of the elected officials, polluting their minds. There is an “opportunity cost” to this, politically.

Consider what did the country responded to debts related to the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson did not want to “bail out” the “spendthrifts.” Hamilton resolved the conflict with Washington by offering to move the capital of the United States. The deal was cut and the federal government assumed the states’ debt. This is an example of compromise at a very high level and an excellent example.

Another example: Louisiana was sold, based on a deal that was struck. Now, no one can make any kind of deal, however small, these days. Compromise and “deals” are unpopular and some would claim, a betrayal of American ideals.

We’ve lost the balance of powers. The 2/3 rule, the 60% or 75 rule forced a compromise. The reduction of the voting threshold in the US Congress, and the proposed threshold reduction for Texas Lege, is a negative for compromise.

When you are in government there is no place to run or hide. If you make an error you are bounced out of your office. In every organization, you have to cut deals and make compromises. But in the U.S. Congress, there is no longer a willingness to sit down and solve problems.

So, how do you change from a culture of animosity to a culture that seeks compromise? You have to give the people who want to solve the problems something to do, instead of making them sit on the sidelines watching gridlock.

There is never an acceptable reason for not solving problems. If you fail to solve problems, you will be voted out of the Senate or the House. If there was a viable third party, everyone on this stage would be in it. This group is the center: in theory, the most liberal of the conservatives and the most conservative of the liberals.

Let there be no labels. In America, there is this belief that everything can fit into the label of Democratic or Republican.

Duck, lie, and dodge: these are not options as a mayor, because the voters see you in the streets and in a grocery store. You have to stand and deliver, be willing and able to defend your words and actions to the voters you meet.

We are a country of disruptors. None of the existing labels work to realistically cover the immediate situation we are in right now in this country. We have to throw out the labels if we want to see discussions occur and compromises made that allow forward movement.

Ross Perot’s notion of a “third party” is doomed to fail. The other parties will smash any attempts of Perot to provide an alternative to Democrats or Republicans. You can never defeat power except through power itself. There could be a third congressional party that stands for three or four key things, such as election finance reform. This group could run in selected districts and present the problem to the country: the problem is in congress. The solution would be to bring in a candidate from this third party. This could work as a six-year strategy, funded by interested parties. (I am left wondering just who these third-party candidates would exist if campaign finance reform were to take place — but of course it has not — and a third party has yet to gain traction.)

We need to have actions taken by people who are not the current “Gang of Six.”

During a spirited discussion, Kay finally interrupts one speaker to say, “May I say…may I interject and say…because I was ….there…” Yes, being there does have some weight, I hope, in this discussion about “what happened” in a political struggle.

Discussion of the Tea Party versus the President. What if we woke up tomorrow and the Tea Party was gone? Or, what if the current President was gone? Is this what it would take to get things moving again in congress?

Extremists who will not cut deals reveal themselves in voting situations when they block major infrastructure deals to move forward in congress and in similar situations. We could not come together during this very difficult, challenging time for America and this shows how serious the problem is.

The power of no – harness it for progress and not for stalemate. No, no, no, does not get it done.

Interesting that most of those on the stage are not going to run again for a political position; this might be a factor in their candor.

“I smile when I fight.” Let’s organize the angels in our fight to win for the good of the country. I love the fight, I love campaigns, as long as we do it in such a way that it leads society forward.

I’m excited about helping the next generation of leaders. Every great revolution was started by someone in their twenties. The stock market is higher than its ever been. Our economy is growing. Our unemployment rate has been cut in half. We have millions of people with health insurance who did not have it before.

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